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Orange, Apricot & Carrot Quinoa Salad

9362993456 b1f78fa791 z Orange, Apricot & Carrot Quinoa Salad

The universe is all the time playing tricks on me. All the time. Not that I don’t think the universe or whatever power may be has nothing better to do than mess around with the direction of my life, but seriously, some days I’m just like now how why did that creep up? This post, as you are about to find out, is one of those things.

A recipe for orange, apricot and carrot couscous had sat in a pile on my desk for close to five months. I finally got around to making it this past weekend. I reread the post it was from this evening. In it, Kate of the Cookie + Kate blog shares her experiences with online dating. There are people in this world who just laughed out loud.

You see, there was no way I was going to write about this. At all. Period. The end. Not going to talk about it. But then I read that post. And I had nothing to write about except…well, I have decided to give the online dating scene a try.

For quite some time now I have asked the universe to get its act together on this front. Seriously, I had witnesses the last time I expressed my demands of it. And the whole time I have spent demanding I have also been feeling nudged to give the online thing a whirl. Martha Stewart’s online dating most certainly added fuel to this fire.

9362993582 6ff0c4bbda z Orange, Apricot & Carrot Quinoa Salad

Despite broadcasting every willy-nilly thought in my head out into this space over the past two years, I would still describe myself as fiercely private. I prefer to listen and observe. Getting me to talk about myself or what is going on in my life on a regular basis is like pulling teeth. This does not bode well for my potential dates.

So the gravitational pull I felt towards this recipe at this time in my life could be one big practical joke. On the other hand, whatever led me to Kate’s post could be trying to tell me that going this route is really not that big of a deal. Frankly, it could mean nothing at all.

Just like a date, this quinoa salad is best when hot. I’m kidding! (But only sort of.) The salad is good warm but also just fine when it is chilled or at room temperature. It makes for a good side dish and tops off a spinach salad quite nicely. Given it was made with orange juice, I have even enjoyed it for breakfast this week.

Granted, a bite of red onion at 9 a.m. is a bit on the surprising side, and when followed by a swig of coffee, one might argue downright unpleasant. But that’s sort of the fun of it, right? Trying things you never thought you would. Like a bite of red onion for breakfast. (Or online dating.) Enjoy!

9363111846 3f6b974bfa z Orange, Apricot & Carrot Quinoa Salad

Orange, Apricot & Carrot Quinoa Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ¼ extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1 teaspoon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 10 dried apricots, thinly sliced (1/3 cup or so)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ medium-sized red onion, finely sliced or diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium carrot
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, orange juice, olive oil, one tablespoon of the vinegar and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, then stir in the quinoa, apricots, raisins and ginger.
  3. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the quinoa appears done (tiny white spiral threads appear).
  4. While the quinoa cooks, rinse the sliced or diced onion under running water.
  5. Next toss the onion with the remaining one teaspoon of vinegar in a small bowl. This will mellow the flavor of the onion.
  6. When the quinoa has completed cooking, use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrot into ribbons over the dish.
  7. Fluff with a fork and serve either warm or chilled.

 

Orange Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Orange Chippers 005 Edited Orange Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Two oatmeal cookie recipes in one week was not the original plan. This happened, as near as I can tell, because there was no original plan. I suppose sometimes this is just the way it goes. And really, what does it matter?

That question has been fueling my modus operandi lately. Does it really matter that I did not get to X , Y and Z (a.k.a. dishes, laundry and blogging) as often as I would have liked this week? Given the sun continues to rise and set regardless of my to do list, I have learned my plans are not nearly as important as I think they are. Time keeps on ticking, so I may as well enjoy it. And if the form that enjoyment takes is stuffing my face with oatmeal cookies all week, then so it goes.

Orange Chippers 012 Edited Orange Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I have had this recipe on my short list for what seems like months. It simply took a while for me to get to because the ingredient list called for things like whole wheat pastry flour and sunflower seeds. These items are not overwhelmingly difficult to find, they just are not things I tend to keep on hand. Depending on how you tend to bake, you may be saying that same thing about the ripe bananas and orange extract that is required.

There are a two primary reasons I like this cookie. First, it does not contain butter. Have I ever baked a cookie that does not contain butter? Flourless Chocolate Cookies come to mind, but those are about it. Second, I feel good about eating them for breakfast.

Orange Chippers 020 Edited Orange Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I am not about to claim these cookies are healthy. They contain an entire cup of sugar and a few chocolate chips. The last time I checked, those were not exactly health foods. However, they also contain whole wheat flour, oats, fruits and seeds. Couple that with the fact they are portable, and I have a breakfast on the go.

After making two oatmeal cookie recipes in the past 10 days, I realized something I did not expect. An ingredient in each recipe - dried cranberries before and sunflower seeds today – are two of my favorite salad toppings.  Add a sprinkle of goat cheese (not yet in a cookie!), and they make lettuce worth eating. But for now, it’s just cookies. Enjoy!

Orange Chippers 025 Edited Orange Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Orange Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1⅔ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¾ cup mashed banana (two ripe bananas)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (one orange)
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, sunflower seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar and banana until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  3. Add the eggs (be sure to beat them before adding), the orange zest and the orange extract.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Drop two tablespoons of dough per cookie onto onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Notes
As suggested in the original recipe, those who prefer a more traditional oatmeal cookie taste can omit the orange zest and orange extract. Use 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, to flavor the cookies instead.

 

Tropical Pound Cake French Toast

Pina 003 Tropical Pound Cake French Toast

Using Bundt pans, or loaf pans for that matter, is just not my thing. Every time, I wait too long or not long enough before I try to remove whatever it is I baked from the pan. This inevitably leads to problems getting the delicious stuff out of the pan in one piece.

Baking things in pans is sort of like the role softball plays in my life, while baking things on sheets is like volleyball. If I have to put some sort of equipment between myself and the task at hand – a bat to connect with a ball or a pan to protect a cake - I can’t do it.

If I can make a direct connection – like smacking a volleyball with my hand or picking a cookie right off a sheet – I’m good. I suppose this will remain one of life’s many little mysteries.

Pina 004 Tropical Pound Cake French Toast

Adding to the “tough pan” aspect of this pound cake was the pain-in-the-buns recipe itself. Sixteen ingredients. Two types of flour. Potato starch. Is all this really necessary?

Why do I need to add two tablespoons of whole-wheat flour to a recipe that already calls for 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour? Is it really going to make that much difference? Why not just add an extra two tablespoons of the all-purpose flour I already have out?

And potato starch? What else am I going to use that for? Since I do not typically keep potato starch on hand, I used cornstarch instead. However, I have it on semi-good authority that Bob’s Red Mill makes a good potato starch  in case you are in the market.

As you have likely deduced, this cake took a good bit of time to pull together. In addition to making it while you are in a patient mood, I also suggest waiting to mix things up when you have help with the dishes. You’re going to need it for the no less than three dirty mixing bowls that will happen. A stand mixer will also come in handy, but I used a hand mixer with relatively little inconvenience.

Pina 015 Tropical Pound Cake French Toast

Despite all the negativity, this pound cake was just too good not to share. It’s soft, yet dense, and the pineapple, banana and orange bring the flavors of Hawaii-meets-Florida to your kitchen. That’s pretty hard to argue against at the end of a dreary February.

The original recipe suggested adventurous types slice the pound cake and make French Toast. I was feeling more of a need to figure out what to do with a semi-mangled pound cake than an adventure (baking this cake was adventurous enough), but I took heed of this suggestion as well. For my French Toast batter, I simply mixed one egg with a quarter cup of milk and a dash of salt.

If you have it in your mind to bake this recipe solely for the French Toast aspect, you may want to split the batter between two, six-cup loaf pans. The pound cake called for a 12-cup Bundt pan, so the two loaf pans should work.

The Joy of Baking Pan Size list is helpful for figuring this out. While you are there, the Joy of Baking Ingredient Substitution list is also a good go-to source of information. Then come back and start to work on this little taste of sunshine. Enjoy!

Pina 019 Edited Tropical Pound Cake French Toast

Tropical Pound Cake French Toast
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs (3 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks)
  • DRY Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup dried pineapple, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • WET Ingredients
  • 2 large and very ripe bananas, mashed (about one cup)
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup sour cram
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract*
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Separate two of the eggs, and one at a time, add only the yolks to the butter and sugar mixture.
  3. Next, add in the remaining three eggs, again one at a time, and continue to beat until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg).
  5. In yet another separate bowl, stir together the wet ingredients.
  6. Starting with the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients, add these ingredients to the butter, sugar and eggs in three separate additions. Continue to mix to incorporate the ingredients into the batter after each addition.
  7. Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan. If desired, you can sprinkle the pan with coarse or Turbinado sugar after greasing.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
Notes
*The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon of dark rum and two teaspoons of vanilla.