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.


Every year around the holidays I like to bake an assortment of cookies which I put into little bags and hand out to all my friends. This year I decided to up the ante by adding some other homemade treats to my list. On the menu was Biscotti, salted caramels, vanilla extract and a sweet & spicy rub. Although I’m really glad I decided to do this it was quite a stressful process trying to get everything made and packaged nicely in one weekend.

Here is the recipe for Bisotti. I decided to use  hazelnuts instead of pistachios since hazelnuts are in season and a local nut.  I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, then chopped them coarsely. I also skipped the sugar sprinkles called for in the recipe and used dark chocolate instead of white chocolate.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: The recipe says two dozen but it came out to one dozen for me


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

Salted Caramels

The one year anniversary of Spicy Living was December 6th. I know I’m a month behind but I’m thinking of having a giveaway next week to celebrate.

Roasted Pumpkin Curry

Fall will officially be over in a few days and the last remaining holidays will fly by leaving us with only cold, wet and dark days of winter. This is my least favorite time of year and also the time when I wish I owned a vacation home somewhere close to the equator. It’s even harder to get through the Winter when you’re single. HELLO, no one to cuddle up with! I’ll be taking applications for a cuddle partner so I can survive the Winter or I’ll just have to cook warm dishes like this to keep me from going insane.

I think you can leave out the sugar in this dish entirely. I used about 3 tablespoons and felt like it turned out a little too sweet but that could be because I used a sweeter pumpkin. I also used slightly less fish sauce because I didn’t want the flavor to be too strong. I would normally recommend not skipping the fish sauce, but I think you could leave it out of this dish if you chose. Last, I didn’t have edamame so I left that out and served with quinoa for extra protein.

One small tip about pumpkins and winter squash… they are much easier to peel if you roast them first. Just cut it in half, take out the seeds and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 30 minutes or until you can poke through it with a fork. You’ll want to wait for it to cool down before you peel the skin.

Rainbow Carrots from the Montavilla Farmer's Market

Recipe adapted from Nibbledish

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

1/2 of  1 small pumpkin seeded, peeled, and cubed
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup of water or chicken/vegetable stock
2 or 3 tbsp of red curry paste
2 or 3 tbsp of fish sauce
4 or 5 tbsp sugar
1 red bell pepper julienned
1 cup edamame
1 cup of green peas
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of steamed jasmine rice

Turn broiler on high and roast pumpkin until slightly golden. Meanwhile, bring coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste to a boil. Reduce heat and add bell pepper, carrots, edamame, green peas, and roasted pumpkin. Simmer until bell pepper and carrots are soft. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Cranberry Nut Bread

Did you know that cranberries are a native Oregon fruit? I had no idea! There are several cranberry farms in Oregon, so I highly recommend that you choose locally when you purchase this scrumptious fruit. Here is a great video Edible Portland did on how cranberries are grown and harvested. It’s fascinating!
This is my favorite cranberry recipe. The first time I experienced this wonderful bread was only last year. I’ve been thinking of it ever since and was so excited to finally make it again. I used fresh, local cranberries which I purchased from New Seasons. I also didn’t chop the berries, I really don’t think it’s necessary. Last, I added a 1/4 teaspoon cardamom because I’m obsessed with the flavor these days. Hope you enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Gourmet

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 large egg
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a food processor or in a bowl with a pastry blender blend together the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the salt, the baking soda, and the butter until the mixture resembles meal and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the zest, the juice, and the egg, add the mixture to the flour mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts and transfer the batter to a well-buttered 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake the bread in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes and turn it out onto a rack.

Vegetarian Korma

I’ve been cooking and baking a lot lately, but have been too lazy to put up posts. Every time I get lazy with the posts I think about trying to make a weekly commitment and sticking to it but then I feel like it’s too much of an effort. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit, I have a lack of discipline when it comes to such things. The result is a backlog of pictures and ideas sitting on my desktop or sometimes in my head. Here is a recipe that was shared with me by a good friend. This is such a simple and versatile recipe and can be thrown together pretty easily.

You can substitute yogurt or coconut milk for the cream in this recipe. I went with plain yogurt to lighten up the dish and it turned out great. You can also add chicken or tofu for extra protein. I also skipped the cashews because I didn’t have any.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, cubed
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
3 tablespoons ground unsalted cashews
1 (4 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh cilantro for garnish


    1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender. Mix in ginger and garlic, and continue cooking 1 minute. Mix potatoes, carrots, jalapeno, cashews, and tomato sauce. Season with salt and curry powder. Cook and stir 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
    2. Stir peas, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and cream into the skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro to serve.