Photo Challenge: Colorful Carrot Circle

Different color carrots in a circle

I have been using these colorful carrots for several months now, but every time I get a big batch together like this I have to pause and just appreciate their beauty. It gets me every time.

Colorful carrots chopped up in a pot for soup
Chopped up circles

This circle of colorful carrots turned into a soup for tonight’s dinner.

 Creamy Carrot soup with sour cream swirl
Creamy carrot circle

For flavors, I added grated ginger, lemon zest, parsley, and thyme to the base of carrots, onions, garlic, and turkey stock. Finished the bowls with a little sour cream.

Pumpernickel onion loaf,

And I also spent a few hours making this bread. I’ve had this pumpernickel flour for a while but never attempted anything with it. What better place to start than the recipe on the back of the bag for Pumpernickle-Onion Loaf (from King Arthur Flour).

Despite having to substitute a couple ingredients and not having any caraway seeds to sprinkle on top, I think it turned out well. I think next time I’d like a recipe that produces a darker bread, but this was a nice intro to the flour. It called for 1 cup pumpernickel and 2 1/4 cups AP and 1/4 potato flour. I’d like to see some white whole wheat  added next time to make a heartier bread.

Notes on the recipe:
The one online varies slightly from what was on my bag of flour. The bag called for 2 1/4 c AP and 1/4 c potato, but I used 2.5 c AP. I also didn’t have non-diastatic malt powder, but the bag said to use 2TB brown sugar instead. Did not have the optional deli rye flavoring so I ignored that, and in place of the caramel powder coloring I used molasses. I also didn’t have dried minced onion lol but I used powdered. I pretty much only had the two flours, the yeast and the water haha. But it still turned out yummy. I’m sure the specialty powders that the recipe calls for gives it a darker color, but I prefer a more natural approach.

Before I got off track with the recipe stuff, this was originally posted for the photo challenge called Circle

Mother’s Day Rum Cake

rum cake bundt pan
Rum cake for Mama!

I made a rum cake for Mother’s Day. I have made this recipe before, the first time for Christmas two years ago. It immediately became a family favorite.

rum cake bundt pan
This cake has an almond meal crust. I usually do pecan. Both are delicious.

The recipe, Carribean Rum Cake from King Arthur Flour, is a bit intimidating to people like me, who don’t often bake cakes from scratch. Not intimidating because it’s hard, it’s actually very easy, but because of the amounts of the ingredients. A stick of butter. A cup of sugar. Add another of each of those for the soaking syrup. Four eggs in the cake batter. A cup of rum overall. You just have to go for it and remind yourself that this is for a special occasion.

Heritage Bundt pan by Nordicware
Heritage Bundt pan by Nordicware

This was the first recipe I tried when I bought this Bundt pan (also from King Arthur Flour). I had never owned a Bundt pan before, and I loved this style. The brand is Nordicware, made in Minnesota!, and they have many beautiful styles of Bundts.

rum cake
The cake rises quite high while baking, but will sink down below the edge on the pan as it cools.

Part of what makes this cake so deliciously moist is the soaking syrup. Butter, sugar, rum and water are heated and poured on top of the cake after it comes out of the oven. The cake sits overnight as the syrup soaks in. This is a heavy cake.

rum cake bundt pan
The cake really will soak up all this syrup.

For all you moms out there, this slice is for you! I hope you had a great Mother’s Day.


Tortang Talong: 5 Photos, 5 Stories: Day 3

tortang talong with pork loin and rice
Tortang talong with pork loin and rice

I recently came across a new dish that was so intriguing that I had to try it out: tortang talong. I saw a recipe for a “de-constructed” version on Upraised Living, where Abbi explained it is a common Filipino dish. The combination of  eggplant and eggs had me hooked immediately, and I looked for a recipe for the traditional version. I found this easy-to-follow recipe on Manilla Spoon, which shows how to dip a roasted eggplant in scrambled egg before frying.

roasted eggplant with skin peeling off
Peel off the skin after roasting

I did not cook the recommended ground pork to go on top, but I did have a pork loin in the fridge to roast so I served that along with some rice. It was delicious! The smoky roasted eggplant pairs perfectly with scrambled eggs. You should give both of these recipes a try!

This post comes as part of the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge sent to me by Nonny Moose. I thought my theme for the next five days would be food, since I haven’t written much about that lately. A theme is not necessary, but for me this is motivation to get caught up on some posts I have been drafting in my mind.

The challenge rules are:

  1. Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
  2. Attach a story to the photo. It can be real, fiction, a poem, a quote or short paragraph – that is entirely up to you.
  3. At the end of each day, nominate one other blogger to take part.

Today I nominate Cheryle of Lightwalkers Blog. Cheryle, are you up for another photo challenge? There’s no pressure, it’s just for fun 🙂

Canning Apple Butter and Making Gingerbread

three ball jars of apple butter
Three pints of apple butter

In the fall I tried canning for the first time. One of my projects was apple butter.

Apple butter that I made and canned
Extra apple butter that didn’t fit in the jars

I like apple butter, but maybe not so much that I needed to can three pints of it. It’s nice to spread on toast, but I prefer cherry or apricot preserves. So I decided to try using it in baking, and found this recipe for Apple Butter Gingerbread Loaf (I didn’t bother with the flavored cream cheese).

three mini loaves apple butter spice cake
Three mini loaves

The recipe was OK, but a bit too spicy for me (I can’t believe I’m saying that but it’s true). I think the amount of spice you add to the bread depends on the strength of the flavor of your apple butter, and mine was quite heavy handed with the delicious fall flavors of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and  clove. But, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and for me this was too much. If I make this again I will dial down the spices in the loaf.

I also thought the texture was a bit off: kind of light and squishy like angel food, not “bready” enough. I wanted it to have more of a solid, quick bread feel.

apple butter gingerbread
I liked the gingerbread warmed and topped with maple whipped cream. (Whip some heavy cream with a bit of maple syrup to sweeten)

I might make it again but will probably try some other recipes too. For now I’m using the apple butter here and there, adding a tablespoon or two to other baked goods just for flavor. And occasionally on toast.

I had planned to post this back in October, but, better late than never.

Bread Bowls

bread bowl, chicken soup
Smallish bread bowls

Cold weather leads to soup, which, the other day, led to bread bowls. I tried a recipe called Italian Bread Bowls, found on, and modified it by adding garlic powder, basil, and oregano to the dough. I had not tried to make bread bowls before, but have enjoyed eating them many times.

So my first thought was that they turned out pretty small. I could just about fit one ladle of soup in each one.  I channeled Zoolander, demanding, “What is this, a bread bowl for ants??”

Kidding aside, it’s a nice recipe. I should admit that before I started baking, I did see comments saying the bowls turned out small. The recipe makes 8 bowls, and lots of people suggested making 6 instead. I had cut the 8-bowl recipe in half and made 4 so that I could see for myself how small was “too small.” Next time i will try baking 3 instead.

The bread tasted good. The crust and structure were strong enough to hold the soup, and the texture inside was soft.

The soup I threw together with some homemade stock, leftover roasted chicken, onion, carrots, and, in an attempt to infuse a little bit of summer flavor, some frozen greens and corn.

Coconut Oil Pie Crust (Recipe Review)

This should have been posted in October, when I started the draft for this post. Let’s pretend it’s October 29, 2014, and we’ll just call this a backdated blog post.

I made a pumpkin pie in October because I just couldn’t wait another month until Thanksgiving. I also wanted to try making the pie crust with coconut oil instead of shortening or butter. Using this recipe from Baking Bites, I got to work. The result was a beautiful and flaky crust that added a warm coconut aroma to the pie (and kitchen).

Coconut oil is very healthy and I felt great about using it, however, it is difficult to work with. The oil gets extremely hard in the fridge and does take time to come up to a workable temperature. And it also will separate at about 73 degrees, so it can’t be too warm in the kitchen when you’re working with it. I do plan to use it again, but will remember to give myself extra time and patience to work with the oil.

Apricot preserves pie crust roll up cookies
Apricot roll-up cookies made with coconut oil pie crust

The scraps that I trimmed off of the pie crust made some yummy little roll up cookies with apricot preserves. I would like to make a batch of the crust solely to use for jam-filled cookies.