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Mango Pound Cake

Moist and delicious with the added flavor and deep golden color of pureed fresh mango, this cheerful mango pound cake will brighten up any table!

I like to cook and bake with foods that are in season as much as I can.  But in the middle of February in Michigan, sometimes I need to just let that go and bake something with tropical fruit!  Sometimes we just need that burst of flavor and color, and thank goodness tropical fruits are available to us in February if we want them.  (My local grocery store even has mangoes on sale right now!) The sweet bright flavor of mango adds a burst of joy to this beautiful mango pound cake.

mango pound cakeCooking shows are some of my favorite things to watch on TV.  We don’t watch a lot of TV in my household, but when we are home and want to relax in the evenings, my husband and I sometimes turn on PBS and look for cooking shows and travel shows.  That is how I found the inspiration for this delicious mango pound cake.  We were watching Pati’s Mexican Table recently, and Pati made this beautiful, yet quite easy, mango pound cake while her main dish was cooking.

I love her show.  Her enthusiasm for food is inspiring, and I love the way she embraces food as a way to bring family and friends together.  And this mango pound cake is right up my alley because it can be made fairly quickly, yet the mango makes it special and fun.  I found the recipe on her website and tried it.  The cake turned out great–moist and flavorful, and I will definitely make it again.

The weather here is supposed to be quite warm (for winter time, anyway) and sunny this weekend.  After a pretty gray few weeks, I am looking forward to getting out into the sun! It has been a strange winter here, with lots of rain and not much snow.  We have not been able to do our usual winter outdoor activities.  I think a lot of us are a bit deprived of the benefits of sunlight.  But this morning, this sunrise was just beautiful.

february sunrise 2And it looks like we will have at least a couple days more of sunshine! I hope you all have a great weekend, and hope you get a chance to get out in the sun.  I think that is why I was drawn to this mango pound cake–mangoes taste like sunshine to me.  I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cookmango pound cake

Mango Pound Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time and about 30 minutes of baking time
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little more for greasing the pan
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of course sea salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of diced fresh mango (about 2 mangoes) or thawed from frozen
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  •  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting the top (optional)
  • fresh berries for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and lightly dust it with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until soft, for about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue to beat for about 5 more minutes, until the mixture is soft and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and creamy, about 2 more minutes.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Place the diced mango, buttermilk, vanilla extract and almond extract in a blender.  Puree until very smooth.

In four additions, add the flour mixture and the mango mixture, little by little, to the bowl with the butter mixture, beating after each addition, and alternating adding the wet and dry ingredients. Mix just until everything is completely combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden brown on top, springs back when touched, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Allow the cake to cool.  When it is cool, flip it upside down on a board and then turn it right side up onto a platter.  Dust the top generously with confectioners’ sugar. Or, just leave it in the pan and cut slices from the pan, if desired. Enjoy!

 

This recipe is adapted from Pati Jinich @ patijinich.com.

 

Chocolate Honey Cake

Deep, rich, and moist, this chocolate honey cake is naturally sweetened with honey and topped with a strawberry jam glaze. Supremely decadent, yet at the same time full of whole food ingredients, this cake is a beautiful treat.

chocolate honey cakeWith Valentine’s Day around the corner, I have had chocolate and strawberries on my mind.  Also, my husband and I will celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow!  So I wanted to make something special for us. Plus, I always like to bake something sweet for the kids for Valentine’s Day. This cake is the solution for all those things!

The recipe, like many recipes, is a combination of different sources.  I adapted the cake recipe from an old favorite cookbook of mine, Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. (My husband and I went to her restaurant, the Moosewood Restaurant, when we lived in Ithaca, New York! Very delicious!).  When I made the cake this time, I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder instead of classic cocoa powder, and it turned out great. For the glaze, I got inspiration from the blog dessert for two The glaze is super-easy to make (just whisk strawberry jam, powdered sugar and milk together), and it adds so much flavor and is such a pretty pink color!  We have some of my mom’s delicious homemade strawberry freezer jam in the refrigerator, so the glaze is packed with intense strawberry flavor that goes with the deep flavor of the chocolate beautifully. To be honest, it was hard to finish photographing this cake because I wanted to take a bite so badly!

chocolate honey cakeIn addition to our anniversary and Valentine’s Day coming up, it has been an intense week. We have all been working really hard. We all need chocolate from time to time (some of us need it more often than others 🙂 ), and we have earned this treat. Maybe chocolate cannot save the world, but it can definitely do a lot of good for the heart and soul!  I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm! I will be joining the virtual potluck Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Ai @ Ai Make It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love.chocolate honey cake

Chocolate Honey Cake

  • Servings: 6 to 8 servings
  • Time: about 15 minutes of prep time and about 30 minutes of baking time
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for the cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (plus a little more for greasing the pan), at room tempterature
  • 1 ounce (1 square) of bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 cup of unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

for the glaze:

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of strawberry jam
  • 4-6 tablespoons of milk (adjust depending on the consistency you want)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat until just melted.

Pour the honey into a medium-sized mixing bowl. With an electric mixer or a hand mixer, beat the honey for about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

In another medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.  Stir well with a fork.

Beat the melted butter/chocolate mixture into the honey/egg mixture. Then fold in the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine well.  When everything is incorporated, spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

While the cake is baking, you can prepare the glaze.  In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, strawberry jam, and milk. Whisk the ingredients together vigorously until a glaze forms. Adjust the consistency if you wish by adding more milk or powdered sugar. When you are ready to serve the cake, spoon or pour the desired amount of glaze over each piece of cake. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Butternut Squash-Black Bean Tacos

The bright, beautiful colors in this meal reflect the wide variety of  its nutrients and the vitality of its flavors.  Roasted butternut squash, lightly spiced black beans, red cabbage, spinach, and feta cheese make up these healthy, easy, and tasty tacos.  With this recipe, you can have a delicious lunch or dinner on the table in a little over a half an hour, and have all your nutritional bases covered.  And you get to use that squash that you’ve been meaning to use for a few days!

butternut bean tacosAt least that is how it often is with me when I bring home a squash.  Sometimes it sits on the counter for a few days before I decide what to do with it. (Good thing they keep well!)  But when I use it, I am always glad I did.  And that is definitely the case with these butternut squash and black bean tacos.  The delicately sweet flavor of the roasted squash goes so nicely with the black beans, cumin, and feta cheese, and the cabbage and spinach give it extra nutrition, color and texture.

What I also like about this recipe is that it is very simple and doesn’t require a big time commitment to make.  While the squash is roasting, you can prepare everything else. It is a light, yet extremely nourishing meal.  And if you want to add more filling elements, some shredded chicken or other meat would taste good in there, and some cooked rice would work too.  And of course, I always like my tacos with tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole on the side too!

butternut bean tacosIt seems like it has been winter for a long time now, and this brightly colored meal is just what I need to boost my energy levels.  This past week, I am finding it a challenge to find the balance between being informed about what is going on in the United States and not getting worn down from too much news.  It seems like every hour there is another news item to digest and try to understand.  Our country is going through a difficult and strange time, and sometimes I have to get my mind away from current events to focus on the duties, challenges, and joys of daily life.  And food!  We have to eat, no matter what is happening, and the better we eat, the better we are able to live our lives, act on what we believe in, and impact the world for the good.

So I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm!  It is cold out there today, but at least the sun is shining, and that is a very welcome sight!  I  will leave you with a quote I came across today–“Be as a bird, who, halting in her flight on a limb too slight, feels it give way beneath her, yet sings knowing she has wings.” ~by Victor Hugo.

I will be taking a plate of these tacos over to Angie’s virtual Fiesta Friday potluck, co-hosted this week by Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living. 

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos

  • Servings: about 4
  • Time: about 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • one medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups when diced)
  • one 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • one teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 8 medium sized four tortilla shells
  • 2 cups of red cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • feta cheese for sprinkling on top
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional things for the side:

  • tortilla chips
  • salsa
  • guacamole
  • cooked rice

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Carefully peel and dice the butternut squash.  (A good sharp knife is really helpful for this part, and be careful peeling!)  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the diced squash with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  When the squash pieces are lightly and evenly coated with the oil, roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, until tender, opening the oven about halfway through to flip the pieces over.

While the squash is roasting, get out a large mixing bowl.  In the bowl, stir together the beans, one tablespoon of olive oil, and the cumin.  Wash and chop the cabbage and the spinach and crumble the Feta.  Wrap your tortilla shells in foil.  about 10 minutes before the squash is done, place the foil-wrapped tortillas in the oven to warm them.  Then about five minutes before the squash is done, pull out the baking sheet and add the bean mixture, stirring to combine.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the squash is tender and the beans are warmed through.  Adjust the seasonings to taste after squash is done.

When everything is done, place a tortilla on a plate.  Spoon the squash/bean mixture onto the tortilla.  Top with the chopped cabbage and spinach. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.  Enjoy!

 

Broccoli Buttermilk Soup

Warm, nostalgic comfort in a bowl, that is what I think when I taste a spoonful of this broccoli buttermilk soup.  It is creamy without being too heavy, and the buttermilk gives it an extra tangy flavor that blends well with the broccoli and herbs.  Two percent milk keeps this soup fairly light while still allowing it to deliver that smooth comforting taste we associate with broccoli soup.  Top it with some shredded cheddar cheese, and it is even tastier!

broccoli buttermilk soupCold, gray skies make me long for soup.  Uncertain times and difficult situations make me long for soup.  Soup soothes a heart that is in need of comfort.  Whether there is turmoil out in the larger world or turmoil in our daily interactions, the act of making soup is an act of positive creation, and a steaming bowl of soup represents the intent of that positive creation.

broccoli buttermilk soupThe richness, the creaminess, offset by the earthy flavor of the broccoli, has such a grounding, calming, and nourishing effect.  This recipe is based on one I found in my Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.  It is quick and easy to make, and tastes great for lunch or as a side dish with a sandwich for a cozy dinner.  Broccoli soup is a classic soup that has so many positive associations and memories for me.  Sometimes a classic, nostalgic soup is just what a person needs.

With the weather so gray and with no snow on the ground, we have been doing some indoor things this month.  One very simple and fun trip was to the conservatory at the botanical gardens near us.  What a great place to visit in the winter!  The air in the conservatory is warm and humid, and there are beautiful plants and flowers blooming everywhere.  It’s like being magically transported to a tropical paradise for awhile!

broccoli buttermilk soupAnother fun winter trip was to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  My son is a car enthusiast, and so my husband’s brother and his wife, who know their way around Detroit, took us to the auto show and on a tour of part of the city as well.  We thoroughly enjoyed this day, and Detroit is a city rich in history and positive aspects.  One unexpected bonus of that day was listening to a concert by a jazz band from the Detroit School of Arts.  Very inspirational for my kids, who both love music.

I hope you all have a great weekend, and if you are looking for a broccoli soup recipe, this one is really delicious!  Stay warm and take care!  I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck, Fiesta Friday.  And I am sharing this quote that caught my eye today:  “Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh  broccoli buttermilk soup

Broccoli Buttermilk Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: about 30 minutes total
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of broccoli (or about 2 large heads of broccoli), chopped to the size you want it
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • shredded cheddar cheese for the top (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the broth and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, and then add the chopped broccoli.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the broccoli is tender.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and continue to stir with the whisk until it is bubbly and smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and buttermilk and stir until the mixture just thickens.

Add the milk mixture to the chicken broth/broccoli mixture.  Continue to stir until everything is combined and very hot, but do not allow the soup to boil.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste.  Ladle the soup into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.  Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from Hollyhock & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.

 

 

Simply Wonderful Pear Crisp

Sometimes the most basic recipes are the best. They allow natural flavor to shine.  That is the case with this simply wonderful pear crisp.  Juicy ripe pears give us such a burst of bright flavor, accompanied by a lightly sweet crisp topping and a spoonful of fluffy whipped cream.

pear crispJanuary is a time when good fruit can be hard to come by.  But pears are perfect for this time of year.  They are bountiful at the grocery store right now, and when baked, they deliver such a fresh, sweetness, especially when baked with cinnamon and brown sugar.

I have made countless apple crisps in my time, but pear crisp is somewhat new to me.  And really, I don’t know why I have not made it sooner.  It is my new favorite way to eat pears.  I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, called Savor, by Ilona Oppeheim.  I omitted the walnuts for my recipe, mainly so my sweet son would enjoy this crisp, though I think they would be great in it myself.  But it is great without the nuts too, especially with a dollop of homemade whipped cream!

pear crispSunny days are hard to come by in a Michigan January as well, and it looks like the sun has just come out here for awhile. We will take what we can get, and I will be getting outside here as soon as I can!  We had a sunny day last Sunday, and were able to get out on the lake near our house before the weather warmed up just enough to thaw the ice.  My husband and his friend ice fished while my daughter and I had a few minutes before sunset to walk down to the lake and say hello.  It was so peaceful to be out on the ice at sunset.

pear crispFood can be a great comfort at all times of the year.  In the middle of the winter, when it is often cold and gray outside, and dark in the mornings and evenings, warm food can definitely lift the spirits.  This pear crisp puts a smile on my face, and my family loves it as well.  And it is so very easy to make, which is an added bonus! Be well and stay warm! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s weekly link party, Fiesta Friday!pear crisppears

Simply Wonderful Pear Crisp

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 15 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes of baking time
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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup  or one half stick) of unsalted butter, plus a bit more for greasing the baking pan
  • 4 ripe pears (or 6 pears if they are small), peeled, cored, and diced
  • whipped cream (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  (You can also use four 4-inch ramekins if you wish.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large crumbs.

Place the diced pears in the baking pan in a single layer.  Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the pears.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and fruit is soft.  Serve warm with a spoonful of whipped cream on top, if desired.  Enjoy!

 

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