Monday, March 29, 2010


Spring is slowly arriving. We've had daffodils for a while and now the trees are taking turns blooming.

Even the trees that are not in full flower are pretty :-) I love the curly baby leaves on this one!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes

I went to my grandparents' home for Thanksgiving last year. While there I found the "Let them eat cake!" issue of Taste of Home and it was sent home with me. It has been sitting next to my cookbooks begging to have something made from it. Usually my baking urges take the form "mmmm...cookies!" but yesterday I got an inexplicable urge to make cake (and huzzah for spring break making it reasonable to actually do so!) - and not just any cake, something fruity and springy. Flipping through the cakes in the magazine, I came across a Lemon-Rosemary Layer Cake. It sounded fantastic, but for the fact that I don't have 9in round cake pans. After thinking about it a bit, I realized that it is easier to take cake around to share in cupcake form anyway. This recipe produced 19 regular sized cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes.


Ingredients for cake:
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp butter, softened
2.5 cups sugar
4 eggs plus a yolk
4 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
3/8 tsp baking soda
1.5 cups sour cream
6 Tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp grated lemon zest
3 tsp minced rosemary

Ingredients for Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 + cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk and beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, beating well after each addition (don't worry if it seems a little dry, you are getting ready to add lemon juice.) Beat in the lemon juice, peel and rosemary.

Scoop into paper lined cupcake pans and bake at 350. The mini cupcakes were done in about 15 minutes. The normal sized cupcakes baked for 20-25 minutes. Let them cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice and zest. Add powdered sugar about a cup at at time, beating well after each addition, until you like the consistancy.

The friend I was baking with dislikes cream cheese, so she concocted a glaze from butter, milk, and brown sugar. It was tasty and looks quite pretty, but I think these guys really want the cream cheese frosting.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


There was a gorgeous rainbow today and I had a great view of the full half circle from my apartment. Unfortunately I could not figure out to get a good shot of the whole thing even using the panoramic thing. Here are a couple of partial views:

Seeing a rainbow today was fitting given the veritable rainbow of flowers around.

My favorite picture from the last week, however, was neither of the rainbow nor of a flower. I love the contrast between the old redish leaf that is doggedly hanging on next to the soft green of the new leaves.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

The math department had a pi day potluck! I was asked to bring not-pie... What they really meant was that I should bring not-dessert. I concluded that the right compromise between wanting to bring pie and being asked to bring something savory was quiche.

The crusts both came out beautifully:

I made one with bacon and one vegetarian. For the vegetarian one I borrowed my friend's pi-plate (since she was making something that was distinctly not-pi and it needed to be used) :-)

Quiche Recipe (for one quiche):
1 medium onion
~8oz chopped spinach (aka, about half of one of the 1lb bags of frozen spinach)
bacon and/or mushrooms (or, really, anything else you think would go well)
2 large handfuls grated cheese (I used mozzarella this time, cheddar works well too)
3 eggs
~1/2 cup milk

Dice the onion and saute until soft. Add the spinach and cook until thawed. Remove from heat and mix in cheese and bacon crumbles/chopped mushrooms. Dump this mixture into the pie crust. Beat the eggs with the milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture over the spinach mixture. Bake at 350 for ~45 minutes or until set. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before eating.

If you end up with more filling than will fit in your pie pan, it goes well in scrambled eggs :-)

Yesterday, that friend and I made dessert. Chocolate souffle cupcakes with white chocolate mint cream may have joined my list of favorite kinds of desserts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hey look, its acting like spring!

At least this week... Whether or not it stays that way is another matter entirely. The temperatures have been consistently above 60 and I'm pretty sure we have even topped 70. The trees are budding and blooming, the lawns are thinking about greening up and there are daffodils popping up in a fairly sporadic fashion around campus.

On a completely different note, there was a mini math conference here on Saturday. We ended up with far more bagels than necessary for breakfast and they were left sitting in the corner of the room where we had lunch. There was more time alloted for lunch than we ended up needing to eat. Thus there were a bunch of mathematicians with nothing in particular to do and a pile of bagels...

That is a bagel that has been cut so that it forms two linked halves. Now I just need to learn how to cut a bagel into a trefoil knot :-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Om nom nom: Squash Bread

Yes, squash bread. Butternut squash to be more precise.

Last weekend I made a butternut squash and sweet potato tagine, based on a recipe from A Veggie Venture, though I seem to be incapable of following a recipe exactly. I altered the ratio of squash to sweet potatoes so that they were close to even and stirred in some shredded chicken I had left over from a different cooking project before adding the raisins. It was delicious and went well with both tortillas and couscous (huzzah for slight variations for leftovers).

In the process of altering the recipe, I realized that using the whole squash would have produced a rather larger batch than was reasonable (and might not have fit in my casserole dish). Instead of making a giant batch, I left ~1/3 of the squash unchopped and put it in a separate dish to bake while the tagine baked. I then ran the squash through the food processor to produce squash puree and stuck it in the fridge to determine what to do with later. During the semester I spent in Budapest I learned that I could make "pumpkin" pie from the Hungarian winter squash that I have yet to come across in the US, so I figured I could probably make some sort of "pumpkin" X from the squash puree. I was right. As a base recipe, I used Kitchen Parade's Autumn Pumpkin Bread (and bah to anyone who points out that it isn't autumn). I roughly halved the recipe (roughly, because I cut both kinds of sugar to 1/4 cup) and added a couple dashes of cloves. Oh, I also replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour (since I happen to have it around). With my small (but wonderful) loaf pans, the half recipe made two loaves. They both came out as gorgeous as they are delicious.