Friday, May 22, 2015

Strawberry "Mojito" Lemonade! The Perfect Drink to Kick Off the Memorial Day Holiday!

 Last week was a great and not so great test run in the Live Bake Love kitchen. Once in a while, Faye and I get together to test out a few recipes we have had in our heads. The day started with me going to Faye's house where she served Mike,  her husband, and myself an amazing french toast breakfast. Trust me, it was amazing!!! Just look at this picture!

 After breakfast was done we started on our first test recipe, Circus Animal fudge... Well as you can see from the picture..

not so successful (yet) but I guarantee success in a few weeks. 

Then we proceeded to our amazing creation and success of the day...Strawberry "Mojito" Lemonade!  This drink was amazing.  I had been contemplating coming up with another drink recipe since the success of the Blackberry lemonade posted here. 

My mother is known for her fresh juices so I have been getting some great ideas from her lately. This one comes just in time for the Memorial day weekend. It is so refreshing and easy to make.  You and your guests will love it!  

The strawberry and mint compliment the lemon so it not too tart. Perfect amount of sugar from the infused syrup.   Then top it off with a little rum (or not) and start your weekend. 

 I hope you give this recipe a try and lets get this weekend started!!!

Happy Cooking everyone!

Strawberry "Mojito" Lemonade
Makes 1 pitcher
Approx 4-5 servings

Ingredients and Directions:

Infused Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
6 mint leaves
1 strip of lemon peel
1 strawberry, halved

Place all of the ingredients in a medium size saucepan and cook over med-low heat until simmering (approx. 3-4 minutes).

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.

Why syrup is cooling, make the fruit puree...

Fruit Puree
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups of chopped strawberries  (reserve 1 cup)
1/2 cup of loosely packed mint
1 cup water

Pulse all the above (only the one cup of berries) in a blender until strawberries and mint are combined (about 1 minute)

Combine the cooled simple syrup. strawberry - lemon juice puree and the and the remaining 1 cup of chopped strawberries in a large pitcher with 7 cups of cold water.

Strain into glass with lots of ice.

Add 1 shot of white rum  (or more if you like!)



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Vegan Peanut Butter and Roasted Banana Cake for The Leftovers Club

I have to admit that being a member of The Leftovers Club has definitely challenged me as a baker and taken me out of my "comfort zone". I've done some gluten free baking in the past and catered desserts for a completely gluten free wedding, but recently I have been paired with other members whose dietary restrictions or eating preferences have had me up for a challenge.
This month I was paired with Jenny from The Lazy Vegan Baker, who is obviously vegan. Not only is Jenny vegan, but she is a very experienced vegan baker and has even published an e-book with some amazing cookie recipes. Pretty impressive, huh?

 While everyone in the group is always so gracious and insists they'll accept anything, it's no fun receiving baked goods in the mail that you can't eat so I wanted to bake a vegan dessert to send to Jenny. Normally I will start with a base recipe and do a lot of experimenting and tweeking to give it my own twist, but this time I didn't want to play around and risk sending Jenny something that she wouldn't enjoy because baking without dairy can be tricky.

I came across this recipe for a Vegan Cake that looked amazing. Marly describes the recipe as being "tried and true" which is always a good thing in my book so I was sold. Of course I still did a little minor tweeking, because that's just in my nature - I roasted the bananas to intensify their flavor.  I'm a big fan of roasted fruit (this recipe for Vanilla Roasted Strawberries is one of my favorites). I also increased the amount of vanilla extract, used vanilla almond milk and a different chocolate ganache.
I hope Jenny and her family enjoys it!

If you are interested in being a member of a fun group of women (men are welcome too!) who exchange baked goods each month, please sign up to join The Leftovers Club! I guarantee it's a lot of fun!!

Vegan Peanut Butter & Roasted Banana Bundt Cake
Makes 1 reg size bundt cake or 3 smaller bundt cakes baked in disposable paper pans
Serves 10-15

3 bananas
3 cups of all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups dairy free chocolate chips

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons coconut oil (softened)

1 cup dairy free chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil

1. Place the bananas on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350f for approximates 15 minutes or until blackened. Cool for a few minutes then remove the skins and mash. Set aside.

2. Prepare the crumble by placing all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until thoroughly combined.

4. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, sugar, oil, almond milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, flax seed and cornstarch. Whisk well to combine.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

6. Divide half of the batter into your well greased bundt pan, then sprinkle half of the crumble on top. Top with the remaining half of the batter and then the remaining crumble. Sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips on top if desired.

7. Place bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake approximately 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Start checking your cake for doneness around 50 minutes. If the top of your cake starts to brown too quickly, tent with a piece of foil and continue baking.

8. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack to cool in pan for approx. 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate or cooling rack to cool completely.

9. Top with the ganache and serve!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lemon Basil Pound Cake with Vanilla bean Ice Cream and Fresh Strawberries

I know I have posted quite a few recipes in the past using lemons, but honestly when your father has two beautiful lemon trees that produce an abundance of fruit, I am constantly inspired.

  So this recipe came together after my mother invited us over for dinner. Since they were supplying the dinner , I told her I would supply dessert. Of course, those beautiful, fresh lemons came to mind...
Since my guy loves ice cream and my parents love cake and they both love lemon, this Lemon Basil Pound Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and fresh Strawberry topping was born! The basil was my new twist... let's just say I received a few skeptical stares from the mother :-) I love when I can pull one over on her.

Anyways, the final product was soooo good, I kid you not!   The skeptics turned into believers.  There was actually an argument as to whether the left overs stayed at mom's or came home with us. In the end, we compromised and split it.

The addition of basil into the batter added a nice, refreshing  flavor, actually toned down the lemon a bit . The cake was moist and flavorful.  I will definitely be making this again!

Happy cooking everyone!

Lemon Basil Pound Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Fresh Strawberry Topping

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped basil
zest of one lemon
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon juice  (from 3-4 large lemons)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Pint Vanilla Bean Ice Cream ( I used Haagen Dazs)

Prep work
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Chop basil

3. Zest one of the lemons than juice all of the lemons to make 1/4 + 1/3 cup juice
4. Chop the strawberries. Add the sugar then place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

5. Spray a 9" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

1. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
2. Stir in basil. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of your Kithen-aid stand mixer or using your hand mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup granulated sugar until creamy.

4. Add eggs, one egg at the time, mixing until combined.

5. Mix in vanilla extract.

6. Slowly add in 1/2 of the flour into egg/sugar mixture, then 1/2 the lemon juice. Repeat

7. Pour finished batter into prepared pan

8. Bake for 50-60 minute, until center is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.
9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes
10. While cake is cooling... Mix together 1/3 lemon juice and 1/3 sugar and zest of one lemon

11. Pour over warm cake and let sit for 30 minutes


12. Once cake is cooled, cut into 1 inch slices.  To serve, top with ice cream and the fresh strawberries.