Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pumpkin Spiced Bundt Cake


So my recent baking spree continues.  And this time I’m leaning into an uber moist and scrumptious (truly, truly) Pumpkin Spiced Bundt Cake.  Honestly speaking, if calories and such were simply a figment of the imagination, I’d be baking around the clock.  Because…dessert! :)  But alas, reality bites at times, so I try to do myself the favor of not having too many sweet, homemade delicacies on hand.

 

Still, the desire to bake (for the first time this year, I realized) a pound cake in my beautiful bundt pan outweighed any aforementioned caution. ;)  And last Sunday made way for joyous moments dedicated to baking (and relishing) this delicious confection.

 

 

While I take my pumpkin spice indulgences on the lighter side, the pumpkin helps to make this one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever taste, with a gorgeous color, to boot, and coupled with the warm, flavor-full spices, it goes down nice and easy, bite after bite after bite.  And maybe a little too easily in my case; but hey, we have to take our pleasures as they come, no?

 


 

So not one to keep a great thing (especially a great recipe) to myself, I’m sharing this in time for your very own baking indulgence to celebrate Fall, the holidays, or simply continuing to survive the “wonder” that is 2020.  No matter the reason, you’ll be so glad you baked this cake.  And you’ll be overwhelmed with….

 

Happy Eating!

 

Pumpkin Spiced Bundt Cake

 

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 ¼ cups of sugar

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

3 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup canola oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

 

Grease cake pan liberally (I used cooking spray) and set aside.

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.  Set aside.

 

In a stand-mixer, combine the sugar and oil until well blended (2-3 minutes).  Blend in eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully, before adding the next.  Add in vanilla and blend further.  Add in flour mixture, alternating in batches with the pumpkin until all ingredients are blended in.

 

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in heated oven for 60-65 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, with no crumbs.

 

Let the cake rest and cool for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto a plate or wire rack.  Dust (I used a small mesh strainer) the cake with as much confectioner’s sugar as desired—and enjoy!

SHARE:

Sunday, November 8, 2020

{Easy Fall Baking}: Apple Crisp

 


There’s something about Fall that turns up my love for baking.  If I had to put a pulse on it, I’d say it’s the cooler, crisp weather coupled with warm and cozy fare that gets me every time.  Oh, and apple season.

Since forever, apples have been one of my favorite fruits, so it’s a no-brainer that combining them with scrumptious flavors like fragrant spices and citrus make them a star-ingredient in my kitchen.  From tarts, to crostatas, apples and baking are a winning combination for me.

 

As much as that is true, it was somewhat ironic that I had never baked an apple crisp until this past weekend.  I say ironic because it was a favorite dessert treat growing up.  In fact, I was introduced to apple crisp as a part of the occasional dessert round-up for my school lunches, and although I found most of the lunches to be not so great, and happily farmed mine off to my eager classmates (my mom didn’t appreciate that, lol!), apple crisp was one of the few dishes (along with peanut butter cookies, pizza and burgers) that elicited excitement.  Sounds like a child’s palette, no?

 


Despite having a grandmother who turned the apples from the apple tree in my grandparents' backyard into decadent homemade apple pies that food dreams are made of, I still fell for those little servings of apple crisp on the lunch trays. And this past weekend, I revived those childhood memories and tastes in my own kitchen, discovering, to my delight, that apple crisp will always do it for me.  (I baked a peach crisp over the summer that was addictively good, so I was biding my time for apple season to finally arrive, so I could recreate the goodness all over again.)

 

Beyond the memories and delicious indulgence, the ease in which this dessert comes together makes it star-worthy.  With the toss of a few ingredients, it’s oven-ready and primed to be baked to perfection with the bonus of that “something delicious is baking aroma” wafting through your kitchen. 

 

Served hot from the oven, topped with ice cream for extra decadence (yes, please!), it’s baked perfection in a dish and the best kind of…

 

Happy Eating!

 

Apple Crisp

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup flour

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, and diced into cubes

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

3 lbs. apples (I prefer Granny Smith)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375° F.

 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.  Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal.  Add oats and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form.  Place in freezer to chill while you prepare the apples.

 

In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ cup granulated sugar.  Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the oat topping mixture.  Place in preheated oven and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving—and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

SHARE:

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

5 Essential Travel Tips For When You're On the Go Again



When this year began, my travel horizons were higher than ever. For me and for my clients. And things seemed to be going to plan (my first—now only—getaway—was to NYC in late January and it served up special and fulfilling memories on several fronts.) And then a global pandemic changed everything.

Uncertainty, hopes for a soon-to-come rebound to “life as usual,” and heightened impact on the way we come, go, liaise and live, started to emerge. With more than a few cautionary tales that have arisen on the travel and personal safety terrains, in particular, and because the impacts of COVID-19 continue to linger, I’m sharing FIVE ESSENTIAL TIPS for keeping your travels as stress-free as possible and your wanderlust in high gear.

  1. Secure comprehensive travel insurance to minimize the impact of cancellations and other disruptions (e.g. delayed or lost luggage, local healthcare, etc.)

  2. Regularly check CDC and state department sites for travel updates, alerts, restrictions, etc., before and during travel. Also do as much research as possible to understand conditions at your destination (domestic and international).

  3. Practice excellent personal hygiene, take care of yourself, and do your part as a global citizen to foster healthy environments, including refraining from going out while sick. That vacation or event will come around again once you’re healthy and our world is out of the current health crisis.

  4. Dream, plan, and prepare for future travel. Feed your wanderlust regularly and anticipate the postcard memories on the horizon when your travels resume.

  5. Let my travel company, Postcard Travel Boutique, help you plan and navigate your travels, and related questions, including ensuring you’re informed and have a ready resource on the ground to assist during any travel concerns.

Here’s to more travel and to more postcard-worthy experiences in the days to come!

Happy Travels!

This article originally appeared on Postcard Travel Boutique.

SHARE:

Friday, September 11, 2020

Baked Doughnuts, Two Ways: Cinnamon Sugar and Vanilla Glazed

Don't ask, because I don't have a good answer. And if you're wondering, yes, I'm referring to the question I've posed to myself many times over as many years: how have I not made doughnuts yet?  Despite my continual cooking and baking for years, somehow this confectionery delight had escaped my kitchen.

Until last weekend.

I finally added doughnut pans to my kitchen arsenal (a part of the original dilemma) and determined that baking homemade doughnuts would make for a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the kitchen.  And so this doughnut story was born.

And like the other things I make with love, these did not disappoint and left me doing the happy dance we all have been known to do when good eats are involved and your vision comes to life.  Not only was I thrilled with how easy they were to whip up (all of the ingredients are pretty much kitchen staples), but I genuinely found them delicious and very much able to hold their own against the more popular (and unquestionably scrumptious) fried variety. 




Because who could dare argue with cinnamon and nutmeg infused doughnuts crowned with cinnamon sugar and vanilla glaze coatings?  Who? :)  Not I--and I'm pretty sure not you, either, once you make these.  In fact, I'm counting on you baking the wheels off of your newly crowned favorite dessert.

Although I recommend consuming them when they're still warm (we all know the obsession hot doughnuts have been known to stoke) for the ultimate in homemade doughnut revelry, you can store them in an airtight container for a day or two and still enjoy them all the same.  If you need more reassuring, I took a dozen-plus to a gathering the following day and they were received with happy mouths and tummies. 



So while there's no suitable answer to my original question of what took me so long, now that I've taken the plunge, there's no turning back.  I'm counting on you joining me, because friends don't let friends bake (and eat) alone. 😉

Happy Eating!

Baked Doughnuts

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups of sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 cups of milk

2 tablespoons melted brown butter

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract  

 

For the Toppings:

Cinnamon Sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted 

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Vanilla Glaze

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Special Equipment:

2 doughnut baking pans 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray baking pans and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter until golden brown and let cool. (Cook's Note: it will go quickly so be careful not to burn it!)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pans and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Allow the doughnuts to cool for five minutes, then tap the pan to loosen, and turn them out onto a baking rack set over a lined sheet tray.

Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter while the doughnuts are cooling. Combine the cinnamon and sugar into a small bowl. Make a half dozen cinnamon sugar doughnuts by dipping the doughnuts in the butter and then coating with the cinnamon sugar. Set on the baking rack to set.

Vanilla Glazed Coating: Whisk together the confectioner's sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  Dip the doughnuts in the glaze to coat and set on the baking rack to set. 

(If you have leftover batter like I did, repeat!)

Serve warm or store in an airtight container--and enjoy!




    






SHARE:

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

{Travel Immersion 101}: Dining with Locals

Bocagrande, Cartagena
Food and travel are inextricably linked in my world.  And as I often say, one of the best, most authentic ways to experience a destination is through the lens of its cuisine.  But there's something that actually surpasses the typical tourist dining experience.  Beyond the restaurants found in hotels and resorts, often exceptional in their own right, lies a sometimes overlooked source of true culinary delight and cultural immersion--dining with locals. 

It's like discovering the ultimate best kept secret, because who better to represent the tastes and soul of a people, their history, their heritage, and the essence that represents 'home'--than a local?  Some of my most memorable meals have come from dining with locals.   Not because the trappings were so grand, but because the heartbeat of the food purveyors and the surrounding community were.

Family-Owned Harvey's Restaurant, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

From a crowded (how I like it) and understandably popular beach hut nested on the hot sands of South America, to a multi-generational owned family restaurant touted as the best among locals, and those who know, in the Virgin Islands, to a Fish Fry featuring locals' gold (aka Crack Conch) in the Caribbean, there's no end to the richness each experience offered.

Sitting elbow to elbow with fellow diners, as I settled in for lunch in BocaGrande, Cartagena, to chatting up a family on their exceptional history and landmark restaurant, Harvey's, in Saint Croix, to trying to navigate the massive fish fry platter presented to me in the Bahamas, these are the dining experiences that go well beyond simply satiating an appetite to ultimately nourishing the soul.  From local pride and community, to seeing a people living in their everyday environ, it's an instant segue into the heart of a destination.

My favorite lunch during my time in Cartagena, Colombia
So as you plan out your travels and dining forays in the days ahead, be sure to do yourself the favor of going off the beaten, tourist path and gift yourself with moments and memories spent dining with locals. 

Happy Travels and Eating! 

SHARE:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps


Frozen shrimp has always been a go-to staple in my freezer--and especially so during the quarantine, shelter-in-place, days of late.  Besides going from frozen to thawed within minutes, there is something comforting about knowing that you've got seafood virtually on-demand and waiting to be transformed into as many delicious iterations as your imagination can muster.

So this past Sunday, after a morning walk, followed by an online worship service, and re-watching Hamilton (squeal!), my mind went to what's for dinner.  And in keeping with my already low-key Sunday vibes, I decided to keep it simple.

What resulted was simple in preparation, indeed, in that I had all of the ingredients on hand in my fridge, but by no means simple in final wow-appeal and delicious-ness.  Translation: it. was. so. good.


Grilled shrimp (I grilled my shrimp on my indoor smokeless grill for extra ease), lettuce leaves to serve as the bed and wrap, piquant scallions, juicy grape tomatoes, hothouse cucumber slices, and a punchy lime vinaigrette, made for one good 'til the last bite creation.  The lightness of the dish (perfect for Summer) x the big flavors made this an instant favorite.  It's a gorgeous meal-in-one that can double as appetizers or a main course, depending on whether you're hungry or hangry. :)

Enjoy--and join me in finding delight in the simple pleasures of...

Happy Eating!

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients:
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Old Bay Seasoning
Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco
Olive Oil
Lettuce leaves (Boston or Bibb, recommended)
Grape tomatoes, halved
Scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
Hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
Lime Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Flaked sea salt for garnish (optional)

Method:
Place shrimp in a bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper, Old Bay, Worcestershire, Tabasco and oil; toss ingredients to combine. Grill shrimp until just done about 2 minutes or so per side. While shrimp is grilling, prepare vinaigrette.  Once done, remove shrimp and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette.  Toss to coat and set aside.

Arrange lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, cucumber and shrimp on a platter.  Place remaining vinaigrette in a dish/bowl and add to platter.  Garnish with a light sprinkle of flaked sea salt to finish, if using.  To assemble, place cucumber, tomatoes, shrimp and scallions on lettuce leaf.  Garnish with a drizzle of vinaigrette to finish--and enjoy!

Lime Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
Juice of 1 lime
Teaspoon of Dijon mustard   
1/2 teaspoon of honey
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil  

Method:
Whisk together lime juice, mustard, honey, salt and pepper.  Drizzle in oil and whisk until emulsified and fully incorporated. (Cook's Note: I like my vinaigrette with a good acidic punch so I typically use less oil than is standard.  Feel free to modify with more oil, as desired.  And you can also double the original recipe for more vinaigrette. Store remaining vinaigrette in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.) 

   

 
SHARE:

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Five Steps To Becoming an Effective Ally

Along with all the fabulous, soul-satisfying content creation work and passions that I get to share with you on my D.M.R. Fine Foods platform, I also maintain an extensive career in the corporate arena. And during my career, championing and advocating for inclusion, diversity and equity has been—and remains—at the forefront of my professional experience and mission.

It’s not hard to fathom why when you’ve personally experienced the vices of bias, racism, and related ills, in the workplace and want to see true, lasting, impactful change occur for yourself and other Black colleagues and non-people of color.

Photo Credit: Better Allies


While there are myriad avenues to leveling the playing field for Black professionals, dedicated sponsorship is certainly one of the most impactful. And if you’re looking for examples of what sponsorship in action can look like, here are five ways (via Better Allies).
  • Speak our names when we’re not around
  • Endorse us publicly
  • Invite us to high-profile meetings
  • Share our career goals with decision-makers
  • Recommend us for stretch assignments and speaking engagements
While not exhaustive, this is an actionable plan for meaningful allyship that can be leveraged now and further built upon in the days ahead.

Start the new week by putting these into practice on behalf of your diverse talent and make the world the more equitable place it should be—for everyone.

Happy Living!
SHARE:
© D.M.R. Fine Foods. All rights reserved.
MINIMAL BLOGGER TEMPLATES BY pipdig