In my last post I talked a little about the  anti-inflammatory diet I’m doing for a few weeks. Today is the 13th day and I’m absolutely dying. I was hoping to last 3-4 weeks but I don’t know if I’ll make it much longer. What I want the most is pizza; gooey, cheesy pizza, with a delicate tomato sauce. Which is exactly why I’m craving it, it’s everything I can’t have: bread, dairy and tomato. Not being able to eat what I want leads me to get creative.

The original recipe for this cake came from the famous Nigella Lawson clementine cake I posted about back in 2010. I really love the clementine cake and it fits nicely with this diet since it’s dairy and gluten free. The only issue is I’m not supposed to have citrus while on this diet and clementines are not in season yet. This led me to experiment with peaches since they are really good right now. In my first try I did the recipe exactly as the original expect for substituting peaches. I was very pleased with this recipe. The major difference was the texture didn’t turn out cake like, it was much more custardy. In my second attempt I added oat flour to the recipe and it turned out perfect and fluffy.

Peach Cake

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 1 (8-inch) cake

  • 5 peaches (about 2 pounds total weight)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups ground almonds or almond meal
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Start by boiling the peaches whole. They only need to boil for 10-15 minutes, until they are soft and you can poke them easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and let them cool slightly so you can touch them without burning yourself. Once cool, cut the peaches and remove the pit. At this point you should be able to smash them with a potato masher or run them through a food processor until pureed.

Oil and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, salt, almonds, almond extract and baking powder. Mix well, adding the peach puree.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you’ll probably have to cover the cake with foil after about 40 minutes to stop the top from burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan.


Zucchini Rice Gratin

I just turned 30 on Sunday and thought to myself “what a great time to start blogging again.” Turning 30 was overall uneventful, besides the minor 1/3 life crises that I had. I won’t bore you with those details, but I will tell you about my 3 week cleanse that I started on my birthday.

I’ve decided 30 is a year for self reflection and inner peace. Therefore, I’m starting with a basic anti-inflammatory cleanse for 3 weeks. These typically mean, no dairy, gluten, alcohol, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers and eggplants) and citrus. I think those are the big ones but I could have missed something. This is absolutely hard because my diet mainly consists of  bread, pasta and cheese. Further, it’s the beginning of tomato season here, which I look forward to all year. But I’m pretty convinced I’m allergic to all nightshades so it’s very important to do this.

I ran into this recipe a few weeks ago. The original calls for tomatoes but I figure I can substitute mushrooms and still be happy. Of course I also had to leave out the cheese. I was pretty happy with the overall recipe and it turned out quite flavorful.

Zucchini Rice Gratin

Adapted from Gourmet, March 2008

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Level: Medium
Yield: 4 servings

  • 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • olive oil
  • 10-15 large crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Cook rice according to package instructions. I like to cook my rice with chicken broth instead of water to give it more flavor.

While rice cooks, toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper in a shallow baking pan. Toss mushrooms with 1/2 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper in another baking pan.

Roast zucchini in upper third of oven and mushrooms in lower third, turning vegetables once halfway through roasting, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes for mushrooms; 20 minutes for zucchini. Leave oven on.

Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a few minutes until the wine is reduced slightly.

Stir together onion mixture, cooked rice, eggs, thyme and additional salt and pepper if needed. Spread half of rice mixture in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, then top with half of zucchini and mushrooms. Spread remaining rice mixture over zucchini/mushrooms, then top with remaining zucchini and mushrooms.

Bake in upper third of oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

New Posts Coming Soon

I’m determined to start blogging again. Stay tuned…

It’s been a long time since my last blog entry and readership is definitely way down. Maybe I over commit myself, but I can’t help it, there is so much I want to do. So, what’s taking up all my time? Well, I’m glad you asked cause I want to tell you. Since last October I officially joined the Montavilla Farmers Market as a board member. I absolutely love this market because it’s right down the street from me and has a great sense of community. It’s now May and we’re ramping up for our opening day in June 5th. This is the markets 5th and biggest season so far and I’m absolutely excited to be a part of the planning.

Alright, so that’s not the only thing that’s taking up my time. I still have my day job, which is also quite busy right now. Plus, I still have time for a couple happy hours each week. Yes, I said a couple; I love my happy hours.

Since the Montavilla Market is not open yet I’ve been hitting up the PSU market on Saturdays, which I also love. When I was there a couple weeks ago I ran into something called braising greens. I’ve never really had much experience with winter greens and I’m always looking for an opportunity to try them out. The stand I bought the greens from just had them sauteed with leeks and mushrooms which looked and smelled very tasty. When I got home I did some research and found that a typical mix includes mustard, collard and turnip greens, kale and chard. Then I found an amazing warm dressing to test out. I changed this recipe slightly by adding leeks and increasing the balsamic vinegar by 1 tablespoon. Try it out, it’s super delicious.

Greens with Warm Pecan Dressing

Adapted from Seasonal Chef

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 2 servings

6 cups fresh mustard, turnip, and/or collard greens (about 1 pound)
6 cups fresh mustard, turnip, and/or collard greens (about 1 pound)
1 leek, chopped
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 T Dijon mustard
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped or broken

Wash greens well, dry thoroughly, then remove and discard the long stems. Tear the greens into salad-size pieces and place in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey and mustard. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a small skillet until hot but not smoking. Saute shallots until translucent and starting to brown. Turn down the heat slightly before adding the vinegar mixture and pecans and cook, stirring regularly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over the greens and serve at once.

This is round two of the blogging recipe swap for me. You can learn all about the recipe swap at Burwell General Store. This months recipe is Grandma’s Chicken Pie with drop biscuits. I wanted to stay pretty true to this recipe because I’ve never made a dish like this. In the end I was too scared to add the drop biscuits to the top of the soup because I was worried they wouldn’t turn out well. I should have probably experimented with this but I just didn’t have the time or patience.

I complimented the soup with goat cheese biscuits which I’ve made before for a pumpkin soup recipe. This was a delicious recipe I’d make again. My guests were very pleased with the results and I was thankful they helped me prep the meal.

Chicken Soup

Adapted from Gourmet

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Level: Advanced
Yield: 4 servings

4 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
2 pounds cooked chicken, cubed
1 onion, chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a large pot bring the broth to a boil, add the chicken and cook for about 20 minutes. Once chicken is cooked, remove and cut into cubes. At this time you can add the carrots and parsnips and simmer the vegetables, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chicken back in with the peas after 5 to 10 minutes. In another saucepan cook the onion in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened, add the flour, and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the broth in a stream, whisking  and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the thyme and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, pour the sauce over the chicken mixture, and stir the mixture gently until it is just combined. Cook for 15 minutes and serve with biscuits.

This cake is a great representation of how I’ve been feeling lately. Light, airy, buoyant and in general just happy. That’s mainly because I’m leaving for Costa Rica in exactly one week. I’m so excited to take this trip. I’ve going with my friend Sheena and we plan on visiting Arenal and Manuel Antonio. I can’t wait to get out of this cold & rainy weather.

This cake is delicious and not tart like a typical lemon cake. That’s because it has no lemon juice in the cake, it only has lemon zest. My friend Peggy explained “I love this cake, and I normally hate lemon cakes.”

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Level: Intermediate
Yield: makes 1 8-inch cake

2/3 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt (added this)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/2 cup poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 325°F Butter and flour an 8-inch fluted Bundt or tube pan generously  Butter the dull side of a 10-inch piece of foil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the sugar with the egg yolks and whole egg at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and very fluffy, about 8 minutes. Beat in the lemon zest. Sift the flour and cornstarch over the egg mixture and fold in along with the pinch of salt with a rubber spatula. At medium speed, beat in the butter, then beat in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover tightly with the buttered foil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the foil and let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely before serving, at least 30 minutes.

Do ahead: The cake can be wrapped in plastic and foil and left at room temperature for up to 3 days.

I might have been trying to write this post for a month now. It’s not that I don’t want to write the post, it’s just that it’s February and I really don’t want to do anything. All I’ve want to do lately is to stay inside and catch up on Dexter. It’s become my new obsession and I can’t get enough. I just finished season 3 and I’m so excited to watch season 4. I’ve been told by many fans it’s the best season.

Before my obession with Dexter began I really wanted to make some scones. This was back in January, super bowl weekend to be exact. I love scones because they are not too sweet and are a perfect compliment to a cup of coffee or tea. I had a hard time picking between this recipe and a chocolate hazelnut recipe. For some reason I was gravitating more toward the orange and dark chocolate. I’m glad I did because they turned out pretty great.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Level: Intermediate
Yield: four large or six small scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  I use my fingers to rub the butter and dry ingredients together.    In another bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into 4 large or 6 small  squares.     Place on prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.  These are best when serve immediately with butter and jam.

Lavender Lemon Cupcakes

Last month I joined an online recipe swap. This recipe swap is the inspiration of Christianna from Burwell General Store. Christianna sends us (7 participants this time) a new recipe about once a month and asks us to come up with our own “new” version of the recipe. These recipes typically come from an old cookbook she found at an antique store, All-Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground. This months challenge was a “Company Time” Lemon Cake.

Lemon Cake

I was super excited about this recipe from the beginning and right away thought about cupcakes with lavender. I’ve been wanting to cook with lavender for a while now and lemon seemed like the perfect combination. I used a Meyer lemon in the recipe because they have a sweater lemon flavor and I added a lemon cream cheese frosting to top it off. If you want to check out all the other recipes just click here

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Level: Medium
Yield: 9 cupcake


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t dried lavender buds, roughly chopped
1 t baking powder
/4 t salt
4 T unsalted butter, room temperature
/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
/2 cup lowfat buttermilk

Cream Cheese frosting:
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 T lemon zest
Fresh lavender buds for garnish

Meyer Lemon


Preheat oven to 350°F and place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. Mix flour, lavender, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon juice, and zest. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in half the buttermilk, followed by another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk and flour. Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way up and bake for 24 to 26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat together butter, cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest  until smooth. Pipe over cupcakes and garnish with lavender.


Artichoke Dip

Bubbling hot

I was at a party one time and I couldn’t stop eating this artichoke dip. I think I practically ate the whole thing and the hostess had to make another batch. That’s the thing about me, I’m not shy about stuffing my face in public. It’s actually kind of gross sometimes; I can devour a burger and fries in minutes. Anyway, I bragged about this dip so much to the hostess that night that she finally gave me her recipe. I love this recipe because it’s super simple. There is no spinach in there, which I think is what makes it easy to make. You can certainly add spinach, you just have to deal with thawing it and ringing it out really well.

This recipe is by no means low fat; in fact in might give you an instance heart attack, but it’s an artichoke dip so you probably already knew that. I recommend doubling the recipe if you’re having a big party cause it’ll go fast.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 4-6 servings


1 cup mayo
1 cup parmigiano reggiano
3-4 ounces herbed goat cheese
1 can artichoke hearts
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain artichokes and chop roughly. Combine all ingredients well and bake for 25 minutes. That’s it!

Oh yeah, I think I promised a giveaway. So here it is! A good friend of mine introduced me to these amazing edible icing sheets. His cousin owns the company, ticings, that makes these lovely pieces. I’ll be honest that I haven’t yet used the product but they look like fun. I’m not getting paid to advertise the product and I don’t know the owner personally. I just really want to share the product with you-all. I think the packet I have has 4 of the miniature and two of the regular sized sheets. If you’re interested, leave me a comment on this post and I’ll pick a random winner in a week or so.  I’m a little scared no one will comments. 🙂

White Bean and Kale Soup

In my last post I talked about having a giveaway for the one year anniversary of Spicy Living. Well, I still want to have a giveaway but it’s not going to happen in this post. I’m not trying to tease you guys, I just need to work out some of the details.

In the winter it can be tough to find a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the things I miss the most during this time are ripe berries, cherry tomatoes and the variety of bell peppers. Unfortunately none of these things are in season here and I refuse to purchase produce all the way from Chile and Mexico. You’ve probably noticed that kale is one of the most abundant vegetables we have in the winter.  The recipe I want to share is a perfect winter time soup that will help you use all that kale you see out there. Of course you already know that kale is super healthy and blocks the growth of cancer cells. So start listening to your mom and eat your greens.

What makes this recipe really good is the piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. I always save the rind to my Parmigiano-Reggiano and store it in the freezer. This way I have it on hand anytime I want to make soup.

Parmesan rind

I made a few small changes to this recipe. I used dried rosemary instead of fresh because that’s what I had on hand. I also added a little bit of dried thyme. I left out the sausage because I’m not a huge meat eater and last I used red kale instead of the lacinato asked for in the recipe. Lacinato is easily found at most grocery stores, see the cook’s note below.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


1 lb dried white beans such as Great Northern, cannellini, or navy
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
2 qt water
1 (3- by 2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf (not California)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 lb smoked sausage such as kielbasa (optional), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
8 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lb kale (preferably lacinato), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped


Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse. I skipped this process by soaking my beans in water overnight.

Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water (I didn’t add any water to my recipe), cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 minutes.

While soup is simmering, brown sausage (if using) in batches in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning, then transfer to paper towels to drain.

Stir carrots into soup and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in kale, sausage, and remaining quart water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Cook’s notes:

Soup is best if made 1 or 2 days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Thin with water if necessary.

Lacinato is available at farm stands, specialty produce markets, and natural foods stores. Be aware that it has many aliases: Tuscan kale, black cabbage, cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, and flat black cabbage.