ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Crisp Plum Ravioli with Lemon-Thyme Honey and Yogurt Cheese

 So this was my contribution to "Herbs & Spices" night, and I was quite proud.  1 - Because I stepped out of my typical range, and 2 - It was just a delicious mouthful.

The ravioli, as named, is crisp - baked in the oven, not boiled or fried.  The filling is spicy plum jam, essentially, and a really gorgeous fall rust-plum color.  The lemon-thyme honey brings an outdoorsy earthiness to things.  And the yogurt cheese, unexpected, and a welcome creamy finale to the bite.  So there is sweet, spicy, crispy, creamy, herbal, fruit, and tangy.  Delightful.

And on top of all that, just a bonus, very healthy-ish!  One serving, which includes three ravioli, two teaspoons honey, and a tablespoon of yogurt cheese - very generous! - is only 328 calories and 4.7 g fat.  I'm sure this must be a Dessert Club record.  Not that we are keeping track.

Crisp Plum Ravioli with Lemon-Thyme Honey and Yogurt Cheese (print recipe)
Makes about 24 to 30

1 (16-ounce) carton vanilla yogurt
4 cups chopped plums (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
60 wonton wrappers
Cooking spray
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1.  Place colander in a medium bowl. Line colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to extend over outside edges. Spoon yogurt into colander. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; refrigerate 12 hours. Spoon yogurt cheese into a bowl; discard liquid. Cover and refrigerate.

2.  Combine the plums, 3 tablespoons honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cool 5 minutes; stir in butter. Cool completely.

3.  Preheat oven to 400°.

4.  Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to prevent drying), spoon about 1 tablespoon plum mixture into center of wrapper.
 Moisten edges of dough with water, and top with another wrapper. Press 4 edges together to seal. Place ravioli on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray (cover ravioli with a damp towel to prevent drying). Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers and plum mixture. Bake at 400° 14 minutes or until golden.
5.  Combine 1/2 cup honey, rind, and thyme in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook 20 minutes (do not boil). Place 3 raviolis on each of 3 plates. Drizzle 2 teaspoons honey mixture over each serving; top with about 1 tablespoon yogurt cheese.
Recipe from Cooking Light, June 2003

1 year ago:  Pistachio-Chai Muffins
2 years ago:  Apple Cake with Buttery Caramel Sauce
3 years ago:  Bread Machine Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dessert Club - Herbs & Spices

Dessert Club in September was PHENOMENAL.  The theme was "Herbs & Spices."  But, in celebration of the season, it was really mostly just spices.  Not that anyone complained.  It was festive and spicy and fragrant in the extreme.  I think we were all ready for the warmth of fall baking.  In fact, I was the only one that used an herb.  I think in the spring we should try "Herbs & Spices" again and see if the herbs outweigh in that season.

Even so, there was an impressive variety.  The best thing about Dessert Club is that everyone brings herself to the theme.  And by so doing, gives of herself to the rest of us.  It's really amazing to take part in.

Here were the offerings at this round's smörgåsbord:

Crisp Plum Ravioli with Lemon-Thyme Honey and Yogurt Cheese

Spiced Apple Walnut Cake

Coconut Ginger Pudding
(amazing, one of my favorites...)

Fresh Ginger Cake

Pumpkin Dip

Cinnamon Cream Pralines

Apple Pie Apple with Saigon Cinnamon

"Kicked" Molasses Cookies with Pumpkin Dip

Maple Nutmeg Cream Tart with Whipped White Chocolate Ganache

Poached Pears with Spicy Sauce

...and the truly deserving winner of the evening....
Orange & Coriander Cheesecake Ice Cream with Blackberry Swirl

Another astounding DC!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peeta's Stuffed Cheese Buns

 Last month I got an email from my brother Dave with the subject: "I want somma these!"  Similar emails in the past have led me to such concoctions as doughnut-upside down cake, marshmallow lime meringue pie, reverse whoopie pies, and eggnog sandwich cookies.  Dave doesn't mess around.  And he only sends me a recipe when he's really serious about it. 

So I clicked through to Yammie's Noshery and drooled over her pictures of gooey cheese-stuffed buns, while mumbly-stumbling through her dizzying explanation that Peeta (Hunger Games, people) is her future grandson.  Or something. 

Regardless, the buns looked awesome.  And easy.  And a nice change from the usual.  So I bought a lot of cheese, and invited Dave's family over for dinner.  We served the buns with Roasted Red Pepper and Herb Pasta with Shrimp, green beans, and an experimental pie for dessert that I'm still trying to decide whether to post. 

Here's Dave's happy, happy face at getting "somma these" buns (too bad it's just a headshot.  They'd just come from the Renaissance Festival and he was wearing his kilt):


And can you ever get away with taking pictures of kids without doing a silly shot?  I think they are pirates:

But back to the buns.  So.  Good.  

Peeta's Stuffed Cheese Buns (print recipe)
Makes about 20

1 cup warm water (hot from the tap, between 105º and 115º)
2 T yeast
2 T sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
8 oz. cheese, the more the merrier (I used chunks of mozzarella for the inside and a mixture of shredded cheddar and Parmesan for the top.  You can use any cheeses you like, preferably ones that melt well)
A few tablespoons of melted butter mixed with a sprinkle of garlic powder and some fresh herbs if you want

1.  Mix together the yeast and water and let it sit for a few minutes.  Add the sugar, garlic powder, melted butter, and oil.  Add the flour a little at a time, mixing in your stand mixer with a dough hook.  Add the salt.  Knead for 10 minutes in the stand mixer or by hand.  Let dough rise in a greased bowl, covered with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 375º.

3.  Divide the dough into about 20 pieces.  Put about a 3/4-inch chunk of cheese in each one and make sure you pinch all the edges back up tightly.
 Put the pinched side down on a greased baking sheet.  Sprinkle the buns with more shredded cheese and some Parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 11 to 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.  Brush with melted butter and serve warm.

 Recipe adapted from Yammie's Noshery 

1 year ago:  Raspberry Tea Cake with Mascarpone Cream Filling
2 years ago:  Peanut Butter Banana Bread
3 years ago:   Chocolate Honey Zucchini Muffins

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake

 I think this is the end of Loaf Week.  How did you like it?

I actually still have more breads in the queue to post, if you can believe it, but I think we will take a pause after this one, and catch up on Dessert Club and other goodies. 

This is a great one to end with.  Because even if you are a little picky about coconut, like me (it's a texture thing), you will love this because toasted coconut is a different thing altogether.  It's crispy and toasty and not shreddy-chewy like its former self.  And it's all throughout this cake! 

Ironically, Martha Stewart calls this loaf a "cake", but we found it not as sweet as some of the "breads" posted earlier this week.  So this one is actually more like a bread.  Whatever.  They are all good. 

Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake (print recipe)
Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 T buttermilk, divided
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted*, divided
1 cup confectioners' sugar

*Toast coconut in a 350F oven for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often.  Watch carefully when toasting; coconut can go from browned to burned before you know it.

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 9 x 5 or 10 x 5-inch loaf pan.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 8 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.  Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down bowl.  With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with two 1/2 cup additions buttermilk, and beat until combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in 1 1/4 cups coconut.

2.  Transfer batter to pan and bake until a skewer inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 60 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, 1 hour.  Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack. 

3.  Whisk together confectioners' sugar and remaining 2 T buttermilk.  Drizzle over cake and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.

Recipe from Everyday Food, September 2012

1 year ago:  Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake with Praline Frosting
2 years ago:  Apple Dumplings with Cider Sauce
3 years ago:  Halloween Sugar Cookies

Friday, October 19, 2012

Walnut Streusel Bread

 My girls love anything with cinnamon.  Even Poppy, my 2-year-old, asks, when she sees me making something in the kitchen, "Can we put cinnamon in it?"  I usually say yes. 

In contrast, they think they don't like nuts in things.  So when I served this up for breakfast one morning, I just called it "Cinnamon Streusel Bread."  And they ate it right up.

But you and I, we're grown-ups.  Not only can you handle the walnuts, you'll probably love the bread all the more for them, as I do.  Sweet & spicy, soft with a nutty crunch.  Amazing.

Walnut Streusel Bread (print recipe)
Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 T all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
2 T butter, melted
2 T chopped walnuts


9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 T butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fat-free buttermilk
Baking spray with flour

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add 2 T melted butter, stirring until well combined.  Stir in nuts.  Set aside.

3.  To prepare bread, weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Combine 5 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla.  Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined. 

4.  Scrape half of batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with half of streusel mixture.  Spread remaining batter over streusel; swirl.  Sprinkle remaining streusel on top of batter.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs cleaning.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.  Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Recipe from Cooking Light, October 2012

1 year ago:  Grapefruit-Buttermilk Sherbet
2 years ago:  Orange Marmalade-Ricotta Cupcakes with Marmalade Buttercream Frosting
3 years ago:  Lemon Meringue Pie

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Almond Bread

 Here's another one that we call bread, but it's actually cake.  I love beating the system that way.  Really sticking it to The Man, you know?  (Though it still shows on my hips, not fair.) 

I do love me some almond flavor, though.  Whether it's almond extract, ground almonds, or in this case, almond paste (wow, yum), I love that heightened fruity sweetness almonds bring to whatever they grace.  This bread is heaven with a mug of European drinking chocolate, or chamomile tea.  Simply elegant.

Almond Bread (print recipe)
Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf

6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 T butter, softened
2 T canola oil
1 (7-ounce) package almond paste
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 T 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
Baking spray with flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Dash of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.  Place granulated sugar and next 3 ingredients (through almond paste) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla.  Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.

3.  Scrape batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

4.  Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Add remaining 1 T milk and dash of salt; stir with a whisk until smooth.  Drizzle glaze over top of bread; let stand until set.

Recipe from Cooking Light, October 2012

1 year ago:  Butterfinger Cookies
2 years ago:  Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispy Squares
3 years ago:  Lemon-Anise Biscotti

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

About a month ago, I wanted to make this bread, which I've made many times, but I couldn't find the recipe.  I looked all over my blog, couldn't believe I'd never posted it.  I looked through cookbooks and binders - where was that favorite chocolate zucchini bread?!  Finally I found it in a family cookbook I made a few years ago, phew!  But seriously, it needs to be on here.  You need this recipes.  Two words for you:  Double.  Chocolate.  And you can see little green flecks so it's healthy-ish, too!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread (print recipes)
Makes two 9 x 5-inch loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt; mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs and beat until well blended.  Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined.  Stir in zucchini.  Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon evenly into loaf pans.

3.  Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

1 year ago:  Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 years ago:  Cranberry Walnut Bread
3 years ago:  German Apple Pancake

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chai Banana Bread

 As you know by now, my stance is that you can never, ever have too many banana bread recipes.  What if the next one is the best one ever?  That's been my experience, so I just keep making them.  Indeed, I think this one may even be the best one ever.  I love it when quickbreads have that shapely rise in the center, stand tall, and cook evenly throughout.  And, specific to this one, I am inclined to thin down the extra chai-spiced glaze with a little milk and drink it with a straw.  Then lick the bowl. 
Chai Banana Bread (print recipe)
Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
5 T butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
10 ounces all-purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, divided
Cooking spray
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp 1% low-fat milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Combine bananas, yogurt, melted butter, and eggs in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended.  Add sugars; beat at medium just until blended.

3.  Weigh or spoon flour into dry measuring cups.  Combine flour, soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

4.  Combine cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.  Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture and 1 tsp vanilla extract into batter.  Pour into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack.  Remove from pan; cool. 

5.  Combine remaining spice mixture, remaining vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk.  Drizzle over or "paint" on bread.
Recipe from Cooking Light, May 2012

1 year ago:  Lattice-Top Cherry Pie
2 years ago:  Vanilla-Pear-Walnut Muffins
3 years ago:  Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lemon Yogurt Loaf Cake

Here's a variation on that beloved confection, the Gâteau au Yaourt, only barely more complicated just because you actually use measuring cups, not just the yogurt containers.  And it's a loaf.  But I guess you could make the other one in a loaf pan, I just never have.  This one is lovely, tender, and, for you less-seasoned bakers, reliable.  And one of my favorite features of this, and all quick breads really, is that it can be breakfast just as easily as dessert, or anything in between.  We really like it for afterschool snack - just a little sugar boost to get through homework to dinner.

Lemon Yogurt Loaf Cake (print recipe)
Makes one 8 1/2 x 4 1/4-inch loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon juice powder, optional
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 T finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Coat a standard (8 1/2" x 4 1/4") loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Dust with flour.

2.  Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon juice powder, if using, in a medium bowl.

3.  Using your fingers, rube the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist.  Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla; whisk to blend.  Fold in dry ingredients just to blend. 

4.  Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top.  Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.  Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Invert onto rack; let cool completely.

5.  Optional - I also made a simple lemon glaze to drizzle over - whisk about 1/3 cup powdered sugar, and about 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice until a good drizzle consistency - pour over cake and let set.

Recipe from Bon Appétit, May 2012

1 year ago:  My Big Fat Bumpy Life Cake
2 years ago:  Apple Pie Bars
3 years ago:  Chunky Cheese Bread

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's Loaf Week!

Hey, you.  This month's Cooking Light was chock full of quick breads, really good ones, and I've been on a kick in that vein for awhile anyway, so to make up for a two-week silence, it's Loaf Week.  Grease and flour those pans, people.  Deliciousness coming your way.
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