Sweet Potato Pound Cake

I know I said last time that Fall was upon us.  But after last weekend's weather, I honestly think Fall decided not to visit us this year.  Brrrr...was it cold.  I had to turn on the heat in the house and it is only the middle of October. It has improved throughout the week but I'm really skeptical of how long this "more like Fall weather" will last...since it is supposed to rain tonight.

Last weekend I wanted to make something sweet but also very warm and comforting.  So I opted for this sweet potato pound cake with a buttermilk sauce.

Can you see the orange specks of fresh sweet potato...so yum!  I made this pound cake last year without the buttermilk glaze (and now I don't know what I was thinking skipping the glaze although still a must have without it) and immediately feel in love with it. I basically love anything sweet potato, so when I found this recipe on organette, I knew I had to try it. Since sweet potatoes have all kinds of health benefits, it is easy for me to rationalize making desserts (pound cake, cookies, pies, muffins/bread, souffle') or anything with them for that matter.  These are my next experiment with sweet potatoes.

This is a nice dense cake, with added moisture from the buttermilk glaze.  It's great in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea (it's not overly sweet) or even late at night with hot chocolate or just by itself.  The nutmeg adds a subtle flavor of spice and everything nice in each bite.  And the cake keeps well in an airtight container. Therefore Mr. Foodie and I enjoyed a lil (or more) cake each day this week.  In short, this cake is a must have and a keeper.  The Foodie family will definitely add this to the holiday dessert table and so should you.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Printable Recipe

the cake:
3 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs, large
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (I used fresh sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled and mashed. You could also use canned sweet potatoes)

the glaze (optional):
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch or flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.  Mix well.
 In a small bowl, combine the milk with the vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Make sure you scrape the down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the sweet potatoes and mix until combined.  The mixture will look curdled and not good but that is okay. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low. Then add half of the milk mixture on low until well blended.   Add the rest of the flour and then the rest of the milk.  Beat on low until the mixture is combined.  The batter will be thick and smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 60-75 minutes (it took 75 minutes in my oven but check it after one hour) or until the cake is done. Insert a toothpick in the center of cake and it is done if the toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cake on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then carefully invert the cake on the wire rack to continue cooling.

Make the glaze while the cake is cooling. In a medium saucepan, combine the buttermilk, sugar, butter, cornstarch and baking soda over medium heat, bringing it to a gentle boil.  Remove from heat, stir well and allow the glaze to cool to room temperature.  Add the vanilla extract, stirring well.

Set the wire rack, with the cake on top, over a baking sheet or a piece of foil.  Spoon drizzle the glaze on top of  the cake. Let the cake cool completely before serving.

adapted from organette originally from southern cakes


Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Fall is officially upon us.  It's time to break out the boots, scarves and sweaters and put away my beloved flip flops, t-shirts and summer dresses.  Can you tell I'm not really a cold weather person. It's kind of sad. I really miss that California sunshine, although they are getting a little rain today, while we have been getting rain on and off (more on than off) for the past three weeks. 

On a more positive note, I have come to appreciate seasonal foods. The weather just seems to demand hearty comfort foods and soothing soup to warm up those bones.  So bye bye strawberries and peaches and good ole' watermelon...just to name a few.  Let's give a warm hello to pumpkin, kale and my new favorite butternut squash. 

After discovering butternut squash last fall/winter (see how delicious, I even made Mr. Foodie a believer) I am especially looking forward to incorporating more of it into my diet this year.  I found this recipe in the Back to Basics cookbook by Ina Garten (given to me by my dear friend JPA who had it autographed by the Contessa herself!!!).  I thought a salad was a great choice to ease my way into the richness of fall flavors.  The warm roasted flavor from the butternut squash is a lovely compliment to the dried cranberries. The salad is then tossed with an apple cider vinegar dressing and topped with toasted chopped walnuts that pairs well with the bitter arugula. This salad could be a great side or just as filing if served as a main course.

So tell me, what are some of your fall food favorites?

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
serves 4

1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and dried
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used sweetened)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper.  Spread the squash on a sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until squash is tender.

Prepare the vinaigrette while the squash is roasting.  In a small saucepan, combine apple cider, vinegar and shallots. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat cooking for 6-8 minutes.  Cook until the cider is reduced to 1/4 cup.  Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl.  Add  the roasted squash, dried cranberries and walnuts.  Toss well with just enough vinaigrette to moisten the salad.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

adapted from Ina Garten, Back to Basics


Salmon w/ Black Sauce

1/4 cup of this (with a few other simple ingredients)

turned this....

into this....

my new favorite salmon dish.  There were a few other recipes I was going to share with you first but this salmon was so spectacular that I had to share it with you immediately.  I literally dreamt about this salmon last night because it satisfied my appetite perfectly.

I need to thank Katie over at chaos in the kitchen for this one.  Just like Katie, I also think salmon has too much of a fishy taste to fit my liking.  This is why I rarely cook salmon at home or order it at restaurants. I really want to like salmon a lot more, especially since it has health benefits and all, but the taste has yet to grow on me.  There is one salmon recipe from the food network I found a few years ago which I enjoy and will share at a later date. But this one! This one right here is the icing on the cake.  Mr. Foodie gave it two thumbs up as well, declaring how great it tasted and how fancy it looked.  Let's look at it again.

It is such a beautiful, vibrant and visually appealing dish.  That is what got me hooked on it after seeing it on Katie's blog and I usually gloss over salmon recipes. I definitely say serve this dish if you want to make an impression or give the illusion that you worked really hard on this meal.  And I say the illusion because it is a quick meal to prepare.  I served it along side brown rice and sauteed spinach and of course the brown rice was what took to most time to cook. 

Whatever your occasion, I do hope you try this and let me know what you think.  It will surely be added to the rotation in my kitchen. 

Salmon w/ Black Sauce
Printable Recipe
serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 1/2 lb salmon, 4 fillets, lightly sprinkled with salt
1 jalapeno, sliced, ribs and seeds removed
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup kecap manis sedang *
2 green onions, sliced

In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and ginger to pan and cook until onion is soft, approximately 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add the salmon fillets to the pan. Cover and cook approximately 3 minutes, depending on thickness.

Turn the fillets over, cover and cook the other side, approximately 2 minutes.

When the salmon is almost done add the jalapeno pepper, soy sauce and kecap manis sedang and let cook together for a few minutes more. 

Remove the salmon to another plate.  Let the sauce boil slightly and cook for approximately 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.

Pour the sauce over the salmon. Top salmon with green onions.

* A note about kecap manis sedang. It is basically an Indonesian semi-sweet soy sauce which can be used as a marinade for steaks, poultry and seafood or as a bbq sauce since it is very thick.  This was my first time using it but will try it in other recipes. I bought mine at an ethnic grocery store for approximately $3.  I did not look at the regular grocery store although you may be able to find it there.

adapted from chaosinthekitchen.com


Avocado Salad

I promised I'd tell you about the avocado salad next and I am being true to my word. This recipe is too easy and too good to keep it to myself.

A nice, simple salad with minimal fuss but enormous taste.  The salad itself is just two simple ingredients.  It's the homemade salad dressing that kicks this salad up a notch (just a little sound bite from Emeril...heehee). I've made a few types of salad dressings but the cumin in this dressing adds such a lovely smokey flavor that it really makes this salad.

I typically like my salad with a few more ingredients and a little crunch (tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon bits...just to name a few).  This salad is more up my mom's alley.  She tends to have a salad with every dinner, so if she doesn't always have "salad toppings" on hand, she will make a "Poor Man's Salad".  Her moniker, not mine.  It usually consists of lettuce and dressing, so I guess this salad is actually one step above hers. Although I don't think she would mind if I added just one topping.

Avocado Salad w/ Cumin-Lime Dressing
Printable Recipe
serves 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (or you can use the pre shredded bagged lettuce)
2 ripe avocados, diced

In a bowl, mix together olive oil, mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar and cumin.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate bowl, toss the lettuce with the dressing.  Top the lettuce with the avocado and add a pinch of salt and pepper to the avocado.

adapted from rachaelraymag.com


Sesame Seared Tuna

Since Mr. Foodie doesn't eat red meat or pork, it is sometimes easy to get stuck in the comfortable mode of  always eating chicken. There are so many possibilities when it comes to chicken, I have to admit I don't always realize it is the only "meat" we've had in a while.  Especially since I've become so interested in finding new recipes and ideas.

I try to incorporate seafood into the rotation as often as possible. I'm really good with buying and using shrimp as you can see (roasted broccoli and shrimp, white cheese pizza with shrimp and spinach, baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta).  But I am really picky about the fish I buy, which some might say is interesting because my fav is fried catfish, a scavenger fish.  Hey, blame my mother because that was my Friday night dinner throughout my entire childhood.  The fish at the local supermarket just doesn't always look the "freshest" so I prefer to venture to Whole Foods or the Dekalb Farmer's Market (a great local gem and a must visit if you're ever in the area) when I want to prepare fish.

During one of my recent blog search for a new and exciting fish recipe, I ran across one using tuna at steamykitchen.com. It intrigued me and seemed simple enough.  

I had never prepared fresh tuna and was a little gun shy (even though I am the queen of spicing up a regular can of albacore tuna).  This recipe was just as simple to prepare as I'd hoped, although next time I will try not to cook the tuna as long.  It wasn't perfect but I'm still sharing it with you because that is what this cooking thing is all about.  I was aiming to leave the middle a little pink, only searing the sides, but clearly overestimated the necessary cooking time to do just that. I probably prepared it medium well when I was hoping for medium rare but it still turned out delicious.  The wasabi paste added a nice, subtle flavor and was not as electrifying as it normally is when I eat sushi.  I served it with the lime ginger sauce which accompanied the recipe, although I made a few variations, and an avocado salad that I really, really enjoyed.  I'll share that recipe with you next.

Sesame Seared Tuna
Printable Recipe
serves 2

3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 pound tuna, sushi grade, approximately 2 pieces (I cut my two pieces in half to make 4)
2 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the black and white sesame seeds in a bowl.  Cut the tuna pieces in half and pat dry. Spread wasabi paste on each side of the tuna pieces. Place each piece of tuna in the bowl of sesame seeds and coat completely. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, place the tuna pieces in the pan making sure they do not touch.  Cook tuna for 2 minutes (for medium rare) depending on the thickness, flip tuna and cook for 2 additional minutes. Remove the tuna to plate

Lime Ginger Sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together.  Drizzle on prepared tuna.

adapted from steamykitchen.com