October 2012 Foodie Penpals

I had a really good experience with foodie penpals this month.  My penpal, Kendra Lee from Over the Spoon, is from CA but recently moved to  my home state: NC!  She is getting to experience all that NC has to offer and I asked, as usual, to send local treats!  She reacquainted me with some items I haven’t had in years, as well as some new treats!

First of all, the card that she wrote had a picture of bacon on it.  This is a girl after my own heart!  She sent me 2 types of Moravian cookies (these wonderful wafer thin cookies from Old Salem), she sent a pecan brittle and Frog jam from Young’s Plantation, a wonderful snack mix, tea, and Pop Rocks for good measure.  We enjoyed the Frog jam on biscuits yesterday and it was so yummy – raspberries, ginger, fig and orange is an amazing combination!

The Lean Green Bean

If you are interested in participating in Foodie Penpals, go here for more information.

June Martha Stewart Cupcake Calendar: Rose and Ginger Cupcakes

Still catching up on this little project.  Almost skipped this one altogether.  But I didn’t because I committed to it.  However, I think the lesson here was that the zuzu of not wanting to make this cupcake affected the outcome.  I believe the energy you put into whatever activity you do is the outcome you get out.  Lesson learned.  Thanks for the reminder, universe.

Regardless, I put some time into these and the results were underwhelming.  I do like ginger and I was hoping for a pleasant surprise with the rose water.  I did try to cut the recipe down to 1/3 of its original size.  This may have had an affect.  The crumb was a little tough, a little too chewy.  Also, the crystalized ginger may have been too sweet, it may be better to buy larger chunks of it and throw it in the food processor.  I couldn’t taste the rose water in the icing at all.

Now I have a bottle of rose water remaining.  Any suggestions?  Sweet or savory welcome!  Not to fear, I have an AMAZING dessert in store for you later this week.  Until then, my advice?  Stay away from uninspiring recipes.  You heard it here first.  Life altering advice.

Rose and Ginger Cupcakes
Makes 24
by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
For the Cupcakes:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped

For the Rose Glaze:
1/2 cup milk
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons rose water
pink gel-paste food coloring

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.  Sift together flours, ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. With a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale, about 4 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Beat in flour mixture in three bathces, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with four.  Stir in candied ginger until distributed.

3. Divide batter among liners, filling fhalfway.  Bake until golden and set, about 20 minutes. Transfer tin to rack to cool for 15 minutes.  Remove from tin; let cool.  Store in an airtight container about 2 days.

4. Make glaze a few hours before serving (if glazed cupcakes sit out too long, they will wrinkle). Whisk milk and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Add rose water.  Add a small drop of food coloring for pale pink, and stir.  Immediately pour glaze on cupcakes (about 1 tablespoon each) just until flush with top of liner.  Let set before decorating.

Carrot Ginger Dressing – weak WAIW

I have never participated in WAIW (What I Ate Wednesday) because I don’t think my food is that interesting – I eat the same thing for lunch every single day.  I love variety but this never gets old to me.  I make a spinach salad with cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and a side of carrots.  Then I have 2 apples.  Sometimes I eat nuts, if I am working out later, sometimes I eat a banana, also if I am working out later.  I just like the way I feel when I eat this, my body is happy, my belly is happy and I don’t crash later in the day.

Usually my salad is with balsamic vinegar and EVOO but recently, I made this other dressing.  Oh, this was the bomb.com (do people say that?  Whatever, I just did).  Carrot ginger dressing – super healthy, flavorful and packed with belly easing ginger!  I would double this batch to last 2 people for the week.

Oh, and now you see my messy desk.  Real life, ya’ll.  Real life.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Ingredients
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped (I threw it in the food processor)
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
kosher salt

Directions

1. Put the carrot and 1 cup water in a small saucepan.  bring to simmer over medium-low heat and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid, then drain the carrot.

2. Purree carrot, reserved cooking liquid until smooth.  Add ginger, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt; pulse until smooth.

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

After a eating adventure or just generally a period of eating rich food, I like to counteract it by making pureed vegetable soup.  I love them.  I love them for the flavor, simplicity of just vegetables and the health benefits.  I feel awesome after eating these soups.  This one had been on my list and after eating a lot of fried chicken (worth every bite), I was ready for some vegetables!

Joy the Baker had one that had been on my list, so I jumped right in.  It came together fairly easily, however, I don’t know why I hand chopped everything instead of using the food processor.   Fool.  Maybe I wanted to feel the knife in my hand.

The coconut milk adds a creaminess and the proportions are spot on.  Even though spring is sneaking in, I think I will throw this soup together again before summer’s arrival!

This soup reminded me of another soup that I love: Creamy Carrot and Chickpea Soup.  This is probably heartier, because of the chickpeas, but it is a great vegan option.

Enjoy!