meyer lemon poppyseed loaf.

I’ve been ALL about meyer lemons this winter. Normally quite expensive, I’ve been finding bags of them for $2 at Trader Joe’s. So affordable, that they’ve currently replaced regular lemons in my morning warm water and lemon juice routine! I’m sure that’ll stop once they fall back out of season, but I’ve been relishing their sweet, bright, charming flavor as much as I can. One way I’ve done that is use them in this spin on lemon poppyseed bread.

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If you’ve never had meyer lemons, well, you’re in for a real treat! They are a cross between regular lemons and mandarin, and have a lovely, bright yet sweet lemon flavor. If you cannot find them, you can certainly just use regular lemons, and maybe swap up some of the lemon zest and juice for orange. That would be divine!

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As with most quick breads, this is definitely better the next day. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. Enjoy a slice with your coffee or tea!

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meyer lemon poppyseed loaf.
slightly adapted from NY Times Cooking. 

ingredients
1 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tablespoons zest; two-three meyer lemons
1/2 cup buttermilk (can sub in 2% yogurt)
3 tablespoons fresh meyer lemon juice
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon poppyseed
2/3 cup grapeseed oil

directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in buttermilk, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into the batter, then whisk in oil and poppy seeds.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 45-1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. If top begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil. Let cool in pan until warm to the touch, then turn out onto a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Turn cake right side up, and let cool completely before slicing.

Best when served 1-2 days after making.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

spicy sweet potato latkes.

Hi there! Today we’re celebrating Hanukah here at PTL. For once I’m actually ahead of the game and posting this in ample time of the holiday. This year Hanukah falls on December 24th, and goes through the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. What a festive end to the year!

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The pinnacle food of Hanukah is the latke. If you’ve never had latkes, let me implore you to try them. They are incredibly simple to make, and mine are an easy twist on the classic. As latkes are cooked (pan fried, actually) in a whole mess of oil, I decided to up the nutrition profile slightly by using sweet potatoes. Now I could have very easily lessened the amount of oil here, but since Hanukah is about celebrating the miracle of the oil lasting eight days and nights (among other things!), we’re going full speed ahead here.

Because I like spicy with my sweet potatoes, I added in a healthy amount of hot sauce (about 1.5 teaspoons/20 dashes). It’s A LOT of potatoes, so these only ended up with a mild kick. Scale up and down to your preference.

It’s VERY important to not skip the salting and draining process of the shredded potatoes. We want crispy latkes, and removing excess moisture is paramount to that process. Once you’ve cooked the latkes, remove them to a paper-toweled plate to drain off any excess oil. Then place them in a warm oven (200 degrees) on a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Do not stack them — remember, crispness is the goal!

You can make these ahead, to reheat from refrigerated simply place them in a 450 degree oven for 5 minutes, turning once halfway through, checking to ensure they don’t burn. Serve.

Happy Hanukah!

spicy sweet potato latkes.
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ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
1 medium russet potato, peeled
5 scallions, thinly sliced
10-20 dashes hot sauce (use chile-garlic paste, Sriracha, Frank’s Red Hot, your favorite)
1 teaspoon sea salt + 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, whisked
2/3 cup unbleached flour

directions

Shred the potatoes using a food processor fitted with the grating blade (alternatively, you can use the large hole side of a box grater for a real workout!). Add the shredded potatoes to a fine mesh strainer that it sitting a top a bowl. Sprinkle the potatoes with a teaspoon of sea salt and mix together. Let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, use a wooden spoon to push the mixture down and to the sides of the strainer to push any moisture out. Less moisture will yield crispier latkes, which is what we’re going for.

In a large bowl, add the salted potatoes, scallions, hot sauce (to your preference, 10 dashes of Frank’s Red Hot was about 3/4 teaspoon), black pepper, sea salt and mix. Add in whisked eggs, and mix to combine, Finally, add in 2/3 cup flour, and mix gently to combine, ensuring no pockets of raw flour remain. With clean, damp hands, form into 2.5 inch patties (about 1/4-1/3 cup of mixture)

Heat about 1/2 inch of grapeseed or avocado oil over medium/medium high heat in a large, deep skillet. Fry the latkes in batches, cooking about 3 minutes per side, making sure that the oil isn’t too hot (above 350 degrees). If the oil is too hot, the latkes will burn before the middle is cooked.

Drain onto paper towels, and place into warmed oven until ready to serve. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Makes about 18-20 latkes.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

chocolate almond yogurt loaf cake.

I was in the rare mood to bake recently, and since I’m trying to eat healthy, I decided to make this as a gift. You see, my aunt recently passed away unexpectedly, so I thought I would make something to take over to my grandparents. Food is such a comfort to many of us, and since I know my grandparents (my grandmother in particular) are dessert people, I thought this was the perfect opportunity. Hello, chocolate almond cake.

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Although it is 2016, I STILL bake with all manual tools; i.e., no fancy mixer for this girl! Give me a bowl, a spatula, and my arms, and I’m good to go! A mixer would probably make my life easier, but because I don’t do a whole lot of baking, I just can’t justify. Yet.

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If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while or have perused the (admittedly skimpy) desserts sections, you’ll know how much I love a pound-inspired cake. I say pound-inspired because I rarely if ever cook a true pound cake. That would be a super special indulgence! This cake is rich and have an unexpected flavor boost from the addition of the almond extract. If you don’t like or can’t eat almonds, simply swap out for vanilla or a flavoring extract of your choice! Peppermint, raspberry… let your imagine run wild! You could even add in nuts to the batter of this cake if you wanted, I just decided to keep it simple this time. Serve with an espresso and a good book. Delectable!

chocolate almond yogurt loaf cake.
adapted from epicurious.com. 

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ingredients
1 3/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (white is also fine)
1 cup plain 2% greek style yogurt
1/3 cup brewed coffee, cold or at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup blanched, sliced almonds – optional

directions
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray, then dust with cocoa powder, shaking to remove excess.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk yogurt with coffee and almond extract in another bowl and set aside. Beat butter with sugar in a large bowl using a whisk (or an electric mixer at medium speed) until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, whisking or beating after each addition. Add half of flour mixture. Add yogurt mixture, then remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Batter will be very thick.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Makes one loaf. Serves 6.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

my favorite banana bread.

There are about a zillion banana bread recipes out there in the blogosphere. And even more stowed away in homemade recipe books, on index cards, or haphazardly written down from memory in an effort to recreate your great-grandmother’s recipe. I’ve tried just about all of them, and have finally settled on my favorite version of this beloved bread. It’s incredibly simple, and I *always* have all the ingredients on hand whenever I’m faced with a surplus of bananas, and allow a few to turn almost overripe in preparation to make this delicious bread.

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No shame, I can polish off an entire loaf all by myself in just a few days. It’s just so good! The best part about breads like this (and especially banana bread) is that the flavors meld together and intensify over a few days post-baking. I can barely make it to day 3, but I encourage you to do so! You’ll thank me.

This is delicious to take to a friend, or invite one over and share it with some coffee or tea. There is a reason banana bread is such a classic. Enjoy!

banana bread.
adapted from Williams Sonoma. 

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ingredients

1 2/3 cups all purpose, unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 very ripe bananas, peeled
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

directions

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, smash the bananas with a fork. Add the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with the wooden spoon until well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with the wooden spoon. Put the pan in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it, about 45 -50 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

To store, wrap tightly in cling wrap and then wrap again in foil. Keeps for about a week. Makes one loaf.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

whole wheat oatmeal pancakes.

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I hope you are enjoying warm and cooperative weather, a three day weekend, and of course, remembering the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for you, me, and our wonderful country.

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A long weekend means another day to enjoy a leisurely breakfast! I don’t know about you, but breakfast for me most days consists of a green smoothie I whip together while getting ready in the morning. I always see fun breakfast ideas like individual egg cups, breakfast burritos, and fun toasts, but truth be told, I’m always rushing in the morning, so a smoothie it is during busy weekdays. When I have a chance to slow down and prepare a relaxing breakfast/brunch, pancakes always call my name. They are so elegant in their simplicity, and most importantly, super easy to together together. Although I love the classic cake, I wanted to figure out a way to make them healthier, and to keep you fuller, longer. The downside about regular pancakes is that the white flour most commonly used often causes a blood sugar spike, leaving you tired and hungry again in just a few hours.

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Luckily, it’s easy to bulk these out while adding incredible flavor! You probably already know that oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber and long lasting energy, and adding it to pancakes results in a hearty, earthy cake that is lightly spiced with vanilla and cinnamon. We’re going to blend half of the oats (make sure to use old fashioned!) with the flours, and add the other half in whole. I really love the texture of the whole oats, but if you prefer a smoother batter, blend all the oats in the first step. I served these simply with pure maple syrup, but they would be perfect with fresh blueberries, strawberries, peaches, apples! Or apple butter. Mm, I think you’ll enjoy these all the way to fall.

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whole wheat oatmeal pancakes.
adapted from marthastewart.com.

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ingredients

1 cup old fashioned oats, divided by the half cup.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose white flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons grape seed oil

directions

Place 1/2 cup of oats, flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse 5-8 times until oats are coarsely ground and mixture comes together.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs and oil and whisk together. Add the dry ingredients plus the reserved 1/2 cup of oats and whisk until just moistened and mixed.

Heat a large skillet or griddle (non-stick or cast iron) with non stick cooking spray (preferably coconut). Pour the batter in 3 tablespoon cakes (it will be very thick) and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side, until a few bubbles burst and cake lifts easily. Flip and cook for another minute. Remove and keep warm, and repeat with remaining batter.

Makes 10 cakes.

 

 

carrot pound cake with olive oil + cider.

I’ve said it before, but I’m not one for desserts. I like a good sweet bread, maybe a slice of pie here and there, but that’s pretty much it. You’ll rarely if ever see me joining in on the office birthday cake or ice cream. Just not my thing. However, I love pound cake. It’s like this delicious cross between bread and a cake, and can be made with just about anything. They are also pretty hard to screw up, if you use the classic ratio of 1:1:1 (eggs, flour, butter). As tempting as that classic recipe is, I still want to fit into my clothes, so lucky for me there are tons of recipes out there that lighten up the pound cake. This particular recipe turns carrot cake on its head and make it a pound/loaf cake. Carrot cake reminds me of my mom; there is bakery here in town, Cheesy Eddie’s that makes the most fantastically decadent carrot cake EVER. She used to buy me a small, personal sized one for holidays – a little heart shaped cake for my birthday or for Valentine’s Day. That cake is so moist, perfectly spiced, not too sweet, and that tangy cream cheese frosting… I am salivating just thinking about it! Of course I can go there whenever I’d like, but my waistline and purse would hate me for it.

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Enter this alternative. This recipe enticed me because it’s devoid of the ‘extras’ that many people put in their carrot cakes: raisins, walnuts, pineapple (in carrot cake?? shudder.) and the like. I like carrots and spices, thank you very much. I was also intrigued because this cake replaces the butter or neutral cooking oil with olive oil and uses only brown sugar. Of course, I have so much apple cider in my house (I really went wild with the fall/apple activities this year!) that any recipe with ‘cider’ is going to capture my attention.

This recipe is courtesy of Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe archives are ridiculous, both in their thoroughness and their organization. She had a link to it one of her recent recipes, and it sounded so good, I just knew I had to make it. Thankfully, I was NOT disappointed. It is chock full of carrots and the combination of cider, cinnamon and olive oil provide a slightly sweet and moist cake. I upped the amount of cinnamon the second time I made it and the change is reflected in the recipe below. This is definitely a dessert that is best enjoyed the day after baking; it allows the flavors time to meld and intensify. I like it plain, but toasted with butter and honey? FORGET ABOUT IT.

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carrot pound cake with olive oil + cider.
barely adapted from smitten kitchen. 

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ingredients

2 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup cloudy apple cider
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray or olive oil. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir together until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with olive oil, cider, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in grated carrots. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing together until just combined and no flour bits remain.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let rest in the pan for 20 minutes after baking. Remove from pan, and cool on a cooling rack until room temperature. Wrap in foil and keep in a plastic bag. Will keep for a few days, freezes well.

Serve plain or with honey and butter.

Notes: This bakes for about 60-70 minutes, so I like to make it on the lower rack in my oven to prevent too much browning on the top.