Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake

I was first introduced to Wholesome Sweeteners at the BlogHer Food Conference last summer here in Austin.  I loved all of the products we received, but my favorite was the Cinnamon Agave Syrup.  I use it in coffee and tea, and I have been wanting to use it in recipes in place of sugar.  When they reached out to me for a blogger partnership, I was very excited.  They were kind enough to send me two bottles of the Cinnamon Agave, and I used it in the Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake below.

As many of you know, I’m not a baker.  I just don’t seem to have a knack for it.  But a while back, my cousin made the best lemon-lavender sugar cookies and I’ve been in love with that flavor combination since.  I figured a pound cake was something I could do without too much trouble, and this came out wonderfully.

Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake | Sarafina's Kitchen

recipe inspired by BakeYourDay.net

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup  Wholesome Sweeteners Cinnamon Agave Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. dried lavender
  • Lavender Glaze (see below)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease one 9×5 (or two 5.75×3 mini) loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each until fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the Greek yogurt, to the creamed butter and sugar and mix just until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat on low just until blended. Gently stir in the lavender.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for 30-35 minutes until the edges begin to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the loaf pans for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Lavender Glaze

  • 1-1/2 cups  powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp.  milk
  • 1 Tbs. dried lavender
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Mix the sugar and milk.  Stir in the lavender and lemon zest.  Drizzle over the cake.

Carbonara with Spring Herb Gremolata

Pasta Carbonara with Spring Herb Gremolata | Sarafina's Kitchen

Recipe courtesy of My Year in Meals and My Year in Cocktails

  • 1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs: parsley, chives, thyme
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or guanciale, finely diced
  • salt and coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound egg tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  1. Finely chop the herbs and combine with the lemon zest (this is the gremolata).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO (4 turns of the pan) over medium heat.  Add the pancetta or guanciale, season with pepper, and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, reduce the heat a bit, and stir another 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the wine.
  4. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta to al dente.  Ladle out 1 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water and beat into the egg yolks to warm them.
  5. Drain the pasta and toss with the garlic and pancetta and the warm egg yolks.  Sprinkle in half the cheese and continue tossing 1 minute more.  Serve in shallow bowls with the remaining cheese and the herb gremolata sprinkled over the top.

My notes: I tempered the egg yolks as I added them to the pasta water.  I was afraid they’d end up cooking.  Either that, or you can let the pasta water cool enough so that they don’t.

Tasteful Selections™ Teams Up With Chef Jack!

A while back, I worked with Tasteful Selections and entered a recipe contest they sponsored.  Since them, I’ve continued to partner with them, but their latest endeavor is, by far, the one I’m most proud to be a part of.   

Chef Jack Witherspoon and Tasteful Selections™ team up to create recipes and videos featuring Tasteful Selections specialty potatoes to support Jack’s cause to find a cure for leukemia and encourage kids to eat healthy.

·        The partnership will run from April 1, 2014 to June 1 2014.

·        The inspirational 13-year-old chef began cooking to benefit research at the age of 6, during recovery from leukemia.  He was first diagnosed at 2 years old, and has relapsed twice since, but continues his passion of cooking for the cause.

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·        His story has been featured on multiple talk shows including Hallmark’s Home & Family, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Bonnie Hunt Show, The Queen Latifah Show, The Marie Osmond Show, and Rachael Ray Show, as well as numerous newscasts. Jack also appeared on Food Network’s mini-series Rachael vs. Guy: Kid’s Cook-Off.

·        Chef Jack will develop several recipes with Tasteful Selections specialty potatoes, and share his cooking instructions through videos. Tasteful Selections will feature these recipes on their website and promote his cause on social media.

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·        Giveaways on social media include Jack’s award winning cookbook, “Twist It Up,” which features 60 of his favorite original recipes.

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·        A portion of the cookbook’s proceeds are donated to Jack’s permanent endowment at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., and to Beckstrand Foundation, where Jack is the pediatric spokesperson.

·        Tasteful Selections™ are specialty baby potatoes with unique size and flavor profiles that are available at more than 8,000 retail stores nationwide.

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·        The Tasteful Selections™ brand means convenience with its ready to cook potatoes—they are thin-skinned and pre-washed and their “bite right” sizing is popular for easy, quick and consistent cooking.

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·        Tasteful Selections™ potatoes are grown year-round in the Bakersfield, Calif., area and are available at supermarkets nationwide.

·        Visit TastefulSelections.com for store locations, recipes and more.

Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites

recipe courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats

 

Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites | Sarafina's Kitchen

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled slightly or chilled (about 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa – be sure to rinse well before cooking)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups chopped pizza toppings (pepperoni, black olives, pineapple, ham, onions, sausage, peppers, etc.)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Pizza sauce, for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil, then spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin VERY well with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Add all ingredients except pizza sauce to a large bowl then stir to combine. Fill mini muffin tin cups to the top with the mixture then place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from cups. Serve with warmed pizza sauce.
  3. TO FREEZE: Place baked cups on a baking sheet then freeze until solid and transfer to a freezer bag. Microwave for 20-40 seconds depending on how many you’re reheating.
  4. FOR REGULAR-SIZED MUFFIN TINS: Bake for 25-30 minutes (Note: I have not tried this myself, although several readers have left comments saying this works!)

Mulligatawny Soup

Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Mulligatawny Soup|Sarafina's Kitchen

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon curry powder
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups half-and-half (can also use milk or coconut milk)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar, or to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  1. Add the butter to a pot over medium heat and let it melt. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the garlic and onions and stir to cook for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and onion mixture. Stir to combine, then stir in the curry powder. Cook the mixture over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the chicken broth. Stir to combine and cook for a minute to thicken. Add the half-and-half, sugar and some salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and dice the apple. Add the apples to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasonings and serve!

Thai Beef with Peppers

from foodnetwork.com

Thai Beef with Peppers | Sarafina's Kitchen

  • 1 package pad Thai rice noodles or linguine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red chili paste or a few dashes red chili oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 pound flank steak, sliced very thin against the grain
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into rings
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh jalapeno or 1 teaspoon diced hot pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

 

  1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, chili paste, garlic and the juice of half the lime. Pour a third of the marinade into a bowl with the sliced beef and toss to coat. Reserve the rest of the marinade for later.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. When it is very hot, throw in the onions and cook for a minute or so. Add the bell peppers and jalapenos. Cook for a minute, tossing until the peppers have brown/black bits but are still firm. Remove the vegetables to a plate.
  4. Into the hot skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the meat mixture, evenly distributing it over the surface of the skillet. Allow to sit for 45 seconds, then turn with tongs. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the onions and peppers back into the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Pour in the remaining marinade and stir. Allow to simmer on low for a few minutes; the sauce will slowly thicken. Turn off the heat.
  5. Drain the noodles, then add half of them to the stir-fry. Toss and add more noodles as desired. Stir in some very hot water if needed to thin the sauce.
  6. Top with basil and cilantro leaves and serve immediately with a squeeze of the remaining lime half.

 

Make-Ahead Mediterranean Chicken (+ a Giveaway!)

Robert Rose Inc. reached out to me a few weeks ago, and they sent me an advance copy of 125 Best Casseroles and One-Pot Meals.  Talk about my kind of recipes! I love one-pot meals.  Very few dishes to do, and well, they’re super delicious!

It was so hard to pick one recipe to feature on the blog, but Make-Ahead Mediterranean Chicken won out.  It’s easy, healthy, and DELICIOUS.

Robert Rose was also nice enough to let me give away the copy they sent to me.  If you’d like to win a free copy, see below.

Make-Ahead Mediterranean Chicken | Sarafina's Kitchen

  • 12 boneless chicken break halves (with skin)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
  • 1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, slivered
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • 24 pitted black olives
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper; dredge lightly in flour.
  2. In heavy casserole or saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken in batches, adding more oil as needed.  Transfer to plate.
  3. In pan drippings, cook onion and garlic over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened.  Do not let garlic brown.  Stir in wine and bring to boil, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan.  Stir in tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, half of the parsley, vinegar, anchovy paste, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, cayenne, and orange zest; bring to a boil.
  4. Return chicken and any juices to pan; cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside.  Discard orange zest.  Stir in olives.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  (Recipe can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; reheat gently.) Serve garnished with remaining parsley.

To enter the contest, just answer the following question in the Comments section of this post:

What is your favorite casserole to make?

Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win!

THE RULES

One entry per person, please. Strictly enforced with all the might this Ginger can muster.

Winners will be chosen randomly and announced Monday, March 17th.

Courtesy 125 Best Casseroles and One-Pot Meals by Rose Murray © 2014 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

Curried Beef Sliders

A few weeks ago, St. Martin’s Press was kind enough to send me an advance copy of Dog-Gone Good Cuisine.  Written by Gayle Pruitt, the book explores recipes that are both healthy and delicious for people and their canine companions.

Pruitt is a certified nutritionist and chef, and she creatively brings those two talents together by creating recipes that are full of healthy and beneficial ingredients to boost you and your dog’s health.

The first part of the book is instructional and full of great information on various herbs, spices, and foods.  It details the benefits of these foods and also gives a handy list of basic equipment needed to create the recipes.

Below is one of my favorite recipes from the book, Curried Beef Sliders.  It was super fast and beyond delicious.  The original recipe from the book is below.  Any changes or additions I may will be listed at the end.

Curried Beef Sliders | Sarafina's Kitchen

Patties

  • 1 1/4 pound grass-fed ground beef (labeled 90 percent lean)
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 6 small gluten-free buns, lightly toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Curried Mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons organic mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon feungreek
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  1. Mix the ground beef, spices, and salt together and form 6 patties, about 3.3 ounces each.  Warm the coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the patties and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on one side; turn and cook for 2 minutes on the opposite side, or until  done.
  2. To make curried mayonnaise, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Spread the toasted gluten-free buns with the mayonnaise.
  3. Build the sliders using soft lettuce, tomatoes, and the cooked patties.

Curried Beef Sliders

Notes

To the beef, I added one egg, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. I had to substitute the fenugreek with fennel seed, as my store didn’t care it.

To the mayonnaise I added 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a small sprinkling of coarse ground black pepper.

To serve, I used the tomato and lettuce, but also added some freshly sliced sweet onion.

Seared Tequila Scallops in a Cilantro Chile Sauce

from Hispanic Kitchen Seared Tequila Scallops in a Cilantro Chile Lime Sauce | Sarafina's Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 chile de arbol, crushed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound jumbo sea scallops
  • 1/4 cup silver tequila
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the 1/3 cup olive oil, the lime juice, soy sauce, cilantro, chile de arbol and garlic. Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper and add them to the marinade. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium/high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the scallops from the marinade and onto a plate while the oil heats up. Add the scallops to the hot pan and sear until browned and opaque in the center, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the scallops to a serving plate. Quickly add the butter to the same hot pan. Add themarinade leftover from bowl, tequila and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Cook at a low simmer to reduce the sauce slightly, taste for salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over scallops, and serve right away. Serve with rice or your favorite vegetable side. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

Notes: You must do this to prepare great seared scallops: Line a plate with paper towels, add the uncooked scallops and take a few layered paper towels and gently press and soak up any excess water in the scallops. You want them to be as dry as possible. If you do not want to cook with tequila, just add some chicken broth or white wine instead.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Creamy Tomato Soup | Sarafina's Kitchen

 

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1/2 c heavy cream, at room temperature
  1. In a stockpot on medium heat, add olive oil, onions, thyme and paprika. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until onions are tender and translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, wine, and tomato paste, stirring to coat everything in the pot. Cook while stirring on medium until paste appears a deep red color, about 5 more minutes. Add tomato chunks and raise the heat until they begin to bubble. Cook while stirring the tomatoes to insure a bit of moisture evaporates from them, but they do not burn. Cook this way until the tomatoes are tender and the skins are peeling off, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove pot from the heat and using an immersion blender, blitz soup in the pot leaving a few chunks of tomatoes for texture. Slowly stir in cream. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Sunny Anderson’s Fastest Chunky Tomato Cream Soup

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