Monday, December 17, 2018

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Tahini Cream Cheese Frosting

Gingerbread layer cake covered in tahini cream cheese frosting.

For me, this has been the season of gingerbread. I can't seem to get enough of those flavors. Maybe it's because I didn't like gingerbread much when I was younger and I'm making up for lost time.

Gingerbread layer cake covered in tahini cream cheese frosting.

Whatever the reason, my house has been filled with the aroma of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg for weeks and I've gone through quite a few jars of molasses. I've even warmed up to anise, normally my least favorite flavor of all. Who am I?

Gingerbread layer cake covered in tahini cream cheese frosting.

Of all the gingerbread creations I've made, though, this one is the season's masterpiece and the star is an unusual ingredient. As rich and moist and wonderful as this layer cake is, the tahini cream cheese frosting is absolutely everything. That nutty flavor compliments the spices and helps cut the sweetness of normal cream cheese frosting. It's a heavenly cake and my favorite of the holiday treats. Enjoy!
Yield: 8 Servings

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Tahini Cream Cheese Frosting

prep time: 25 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 55 mins
Recipe for a gingerbread layer cake covered in tahini cream cheese frosting.

ingredients:

1 Cup light brown sugar
2 Sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 Cup molasses
3 Eggs
1 Cup buttermilk
3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons ground ginger
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 Teaspoons salt

Tahini Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. Cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup tahini
1 Teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 Cups powdered sugar
1/4 Teaspoon salt

instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 6" x 2" round cake pans. You can also use baking spray with flour in it and add a strip of parchment for easy removal.

Cream together the butter and sugar, using a hand or stand mixer. Mix in the molasses, eggs and buttermilk.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.

Divide the batter equally among the 3 pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from the pans.

Make the frosting by creaming together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, tahini, powdered sugar and salt until smooth.

To assemble the cake, spread about a 1/2 cup of frosting between each layer and don't worry if some drips out the sides when you place the next layer on top. When all the layers are assembled, top with the remaining frosting and use an offset spatula or butter knife to smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Stuffed Roasted Cornish Game Hen

Roasted and stuffed Cornish game hen along with Middle Eastern spiced side dishes.

My European mother came to the US as an adult and had to learn American foods and holiday customs. She liked the idea of them but wasn't completely sold on some of the dishes so she put her own spin on them. This also applied to the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey which she interpreted to mean some kind of roast bird. And it was fun each year to see which bird she'd chosen.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Easy Holiday Charcuterie Board with Eckrich Smoked Sausage

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Recipe and instructions for putting together a holiday charcuterie board.

This is a sponsored post, written by me, on behalf of Eckrich Smoked Sausage.

I think one of the reasons that people love this time of year, myself included, is that there's so much focus on gathering. While it can feel like we're disconnected from each other much of the time, the holidays bring family home and friends together.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Salted Caramel Ginger Pot de Creme

Baked salted caramel pots with ginger and cinnamon.

I love desserts in little jars and always have. Not only do I enjoy having a little pot of something delicious all to myself but, even better, it's the perfect way to give a sweet gift. And these days I'm all about thinking up sweet little gifts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Spiced Bourbon Almond Nog

Bourbon cocktail flavored with almond liqueur and eggnog.

The chances of my getting through the holiday season without buying at least one container of egg nog are basically zero. It's such a creamy, indulgent treat and I've loved it since I was a kid. But, as an adult, I find I need to cut the sweetness a bit. Fortunately, adulthood comes with the ability to pour bourbon into it.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Chicken Shawarma Tacos

Chicken tacos in flavorful shawarma sauce with tahini slaw.

One of the many, many reasons we all love tacos is how easy they are to prepare, right? Make a few simple things and set up a DIY taco station for family and friends to customize however they like.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Make Ahead Gravy

Easy make-ahead gravy that's perfect for Thanksgiving or anytime.

Three days left until the big Thanksgiving feast so let's talk about food stresses. For me, for many years, it was the gravy. I was taught that I need to take the turkey out of the roasting pan and keep it warm while I strain the boiling hot pan, de-glaze it with stock and scrape the good bits up from the bottom. Then pour it into a gravy separator to get off the layer of fat, then make a butter and flour mixture and whisk it in until the gravy thickens.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mustard Coated Crispy Potato Balls

Crispy mustard coated fried potato balls with cheese.

My favorite thing about this time of year is the focus on gathering. Whether it's family or friends or even new friends like the great group I recently met at a book club meeting, the get-togethers make me feel connected.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Autumn Harvest Bourbon Ginger Fizz

Bourbon cocktail with ginger syrup and sparkling apple cider.

The countdown to Thanksgiving is on and I love this time of year so much. The air is crisp and the weather cool but not cold. Autumn is showing off her colors outside my window, magazines and newspapers are filled with pie and side dish recipes and most of us are placing our turkey orders. But let's not forget the cocktails.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bacon Cheddar Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

Homemade cornbread stuffing with bacon, sausage and cheese.

Let's talk about the best part of the Thanksgiving feast: stuffing! Or, in this case, dressing. Because when you stuff it inside the bird it's called stuffing and when you make it on the side it's called dressing. In my family we call it stuffing no matter what because dressing is the stuff you pour on salad. But that's not important right now. What is important is: stuffing!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Moroccan Chicken Chermoula

One pan chicken entree, cooked in a spicy North African sauce.

How does a pan of flavorful chicken thighs, cooked in an aromatic sauce and served over rice, sound for dinner? Good, right? Especially when that sauce is a slow cooked North African chermoula, a blend of red chili peppers, garlic, coriander, cilantro and lemon. No time to make a complex sauce, you say? I've got you covered.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Pumpkin Boule Bread

Savory crusty pumpkin bread with a light egg bread texture.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love pumpkin? For some reason, I've been obsessed with how pumpkins and other winter squash look since I was a kid but I didn't actually love the taste. But, as an adult, my obsession is complete.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Crispy Chickpea and Egg Shakshuka

Crispy chickpeas and eggs poached in a shakshuka simmer sauce.

I came to love shakshuka, the popular breakfast dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, a little later in life. This was probably the result of being a tomato hating kid but thank goodness I grew out of it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wicked Chocolate Pumpkin Smash Cocktail

Bourbon cocktail flavored with pumpkin, chocolate and cinnamon.

I interrupt this normally family-friendly foodie conversation to talk about wicked cocktails and what they'll make you do. Dancing naked on a bar to the song Monster Mash is one such wicked possibility.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tahini Salted Caramel Apples

Apples dipped in tahini salted caramel and decorated with nuts and chocolate.

Every autumn I start to dream about caramel apples. I think it started when I was a little girl, window shopping with my mother in fancy department stores. There was always a display of the most decadent looking caramel apples, loaded with chocolate and nuts. But the prices were outrageous.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Individual Apple and Peanut Butter Crumbles

Recipe for an apple dessert baked in individual pots and covered with a peanut butter crumb topping and peanut butter sauce.

Last weekend, when I was at the farmer's market, I could practically smell the apples a block away. So many fresh ripe varieties to choose from and all sweet and perfect. I bought some just for eating as snacks with peanut butter but I also wanted to make an apple crumb cake.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Middle Eastern Wedge Salad with Crispy Cauliflower Rice

Wedge salad with herb tahini dressing, roasted chickpeas and crispy cauliflower rice.

I, personally, celebrated when the old time wedge salad became popular again. They're the steakhouse classic of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and blue cheese dressing. What's not to love? And I'm all for them never going out of style again. But there's also no reason we can't make variations of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Warm Apple Fritters

Sweet apple fritters, fried and served hot with powdered sugar.

Yay! It finally cooled down enough for me to turn off my air conditioner. I mean, seriously, this was the hottest summer ever in New York and I was over it a long time ago. Bring on autumn with its apples and pumpkins and open window breezes.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Cheesy Meatball Sliders

Beef and pork meatball sandwiches with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.

Summer may not be officially over but summer schedules definitely are. It's back to school, back to work, back to real life. And that also means back to meal planning for quick and easy dinner ideas.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Za'atar Crusted Steak with Spicy Shatta Chimichurri

Grilled steak, crusted with za'atar and served with a spicy herb and garlic sauce.

I'm always experimenting with steak sauces that enhance but don't overpower the meat. As much as I love barbecue sauce, once I put it on, it's pretty much all I can taste. And it's a shame to buy good quality beef and spend time cooking it well only to not get the flavor.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Frozen Coconut Blue Hawaiian

Frozen rum cocktail flavored with pineapple juice, blue curacao and coconut ice cream.

Late August is usually when I feel some cooler breezes in the air, autumn catalogs begin to arrive in the mail and, much as I hate to rush the seasons, I start to think about baking with pumpkin. The key word here is usually because this year, it's still hot as hell, my air conditioner is working overtime and all I can think about is cold drinks. And ice cream. I think about ice cream.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sparkling Peach and Thyme Rose' Cocktail

Sparkling gin and rose wine cocktail with peach and thyme.

This was my summer of discovering all my favorite rose' wines. I have nothing against reds and whites but rose' has my heart. Extra points if the weather is hot and the rose' is bubbly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Peach Shortcakes with Honey Basil Syrup

Individual peach shortcakes with sweet buttermilk biscuits and peaches in a honey basil syrup.

And...it's finally peach season. Oh, sure, there have been peaches in the market for the last couple of months but they were just hard orbs with no fresh peach aroma. And I know from sad experience that they will never ripen. But now that it's August, the peaches are tender and fragrant, juicy and delicious.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Savory Zucchini Pie with Fontina Cheese and Walnut Crust

Savory zucchini tart with fontina cheese in a buttery walnut crust.

Based on what I'm seeing at the farmer's market these days, zucchini is taking over the planet. OK, maybe not but I'm eating so much of the stuff that I'm about to turn green. Fortunately, I love it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

No Bake Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake

No-bake cheesecake with chocolate covered cookie layers.

It's no secret that cheesecake is my favorite dessert and it's what I always want as my birthday cake. And yes, I do usually make my own birthday cake because...well...I make really good cheesecake. If I absolutely, positively had to pick a favorite, it would be a tie between the classic New York steakhouse style with a cookie crust and strawberries on top and my mother's no-bake version.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Labneh Ice Cream with Cherry Swirl

Ice cream made with milk, cream and yogurt cheese, swirled with a cherry compote.

There's not really much to complain about when it comes to ice cream. But sometimes, the sweet on sweet can be too much for me, especially when it's hot and I'm looking for something cooling. My preference is for a little tart to go with with my sweet. Not sour, like a lemon sorbet, but just a little bit tart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Loaded Chickpea Slaw

Coleslaw with crispy chickpeas, broccoli and tomatoes in a mustard tahini dressing.

Let's talk about lunch prep. I feel like the Sunday meal prepping people do tends to be more for weeknight dinners but lunch has always been a big prep situation for me. I love those Whole Foods type salad bars but it's expensive and not always convenient. So I make my own salad bar at home.

Monday, July 2, 2018

French Inspired Cheese Board with Edible Flowers

Cheese board with an array of French hard and soft cheeses, baguettes and edible flowers.

No matter what the season, when I'm entertaining there's nothing more crowd pleasing than a great cheese board. But, in summer, I especially love opening a crisp bottle of rose' and serving cheese on a Sunday afternoon with friends.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Chicken and vegetables, grilled on skewers, served with a smoky roasted red pepper sauce.

Summer is all about the grill, isn't it? There's just something about cooking and eating outside and the taste of grilled food. You can use a grill pan in your kitchen, too, and I've done that plenty of times. But now this city girl has an outdoor grill as well!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Star Spangled Watermelon Gin Slush

Recipe for a frozen gin cocktail with fresh watermelon and elderflower liqueur.

We need to talk about this cocktail because it is so good. I mean, this recipe makes two drinks and I may or may not have had them both. It was just so hard to stop. And the 4th of July theme? Oh, yes, this drink will be on repeat for the holiday.

Monday, June 11, 2018

French Market Salad with Fried Goat Cheese

Salad with baby arugula, roasted beets, French green beans, edible flowers and fried goat cheese.

When I'm walking through my local farmer's market on Saturday mornings, I always develop an overwhelming urge to make a big salad. And since I can't resist buying all the things, a salad is a great way to use them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Cauliflower Shawarma

Cauliflower roasted in shawarma spices and served with pita and tahini sauce.

My first experience with shawarma was on vacation on the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel. Food vendors were selling falafel and shawarma sandwiches along with cold beverages on that hot August day. I ordered falafel because it's my favorite street food and my sister-in-law, who was my beach buddy that afternoon, ordered shawarma. I'd never had it before but the aroma was intoxicating and I asked for a taste. Hooked!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Creamy Lime in the Coconut Ice Cream

Creamy coconut ice cream flavored with lime.

I have a life long love/hate relationship with coconut. Love the flavor, hate the texture. So, little pieces of shredded coconut inside foods or covering the outside of a cake? Nope, not for me. The result of this has been that I spent a lot of time avoiding coconut flavored foods and pretty much kept my coconut consumption to pina coladas.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Memorial Day Recipe Ideas


Are you ready for the unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day weekend? Yes, the day itself is significant but, let's face it, it's also a time when friends and family gather to spend time together and start enjoying the summery weather. And that means food. So here are some of my favorite ideas this year for sides, mains, desserts and, of course, cocktails. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Chocolate Covered Almond Butter Cookies

Almond butter cookies coated with chocolate and sprinkled with slivered almonds and sea salt.

My peanut butter obsession means that's usually the jar I reach for when there's cookie baking to be done. And since it's been raining non stop for so long that I've actually lost track, there has definitely been cookie baking. But I decided it was time to show the almond butter some love as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ghee Roasted White and Sweet Potato Salad

White and sweet potato salad roasted with ghee.

For some reason, 2018 is running by super fast for me. Half the things I was supposed to get to in the first quarter of the year are still untouched. And then suddenly I look up and it's two weeks to the start of long summer weekends, beach openings and grilling season. Not that those things are anything to complain about.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Honeydew Melon Mojitos

Rum cocktail flavored with mint and honeydew melon.

I've always enjoyed a cool, refreshing mojito in hot weather. It's icy and minty and not too strong. Despite the 2 ounces of rum, it's topped off with club soda which makes a great slow sipper. Can't you just picture a tray of them on the porch in summer?

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bagel Breakfast Bar with Labneh and Za'atar Cream Cheese

Yogurt cream cheese flavored with za'atar and tips on setting up a bagel brunch.

When Sunday brunch is at my house, I like to to serve a bagel feast. I mean, who doesn't like bagels?Not only is it popular but it's easy to put together and involves more shopping than actual cooking.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ramp and Gruyere Cheese Tart

Savory tart with Gruyere cheese and spring ramps.

Do you suffer from ramp insanity? These wild onions appear for a short time in the spring and our local farmer's markets actually tweet out alerts. That's how ramp crazy we are. They smell and taste like a cross between garlic and onions with an extra touch of something green and wild and wonderful. Clearly I'm a a sufferer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cobb Salad Nachos

Tortilla chips topped with cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, diced tomatoes, avocado and grilled chicken.

This recipe got started recently as I was staring at the menu of one of my favorite local dives and trying to decide between nachos and Cobb salad. Normally this is an easy decision for me since Cobb salad is one of my favorites. But I had Cinco de Mayo nachos on the brain.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Falafel and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast sandwich with a falafel patty, tahini, diced cucumbers and topped with a fried egg.

I have a serious affection for a good, loaded breakfast sandwich. What's not to love about all the delicious breakfast things stacked between two pieces of delicious bread? But what exactly constitutes breakfast things is open to interpretation and variation.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Milk Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies

Thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies flavored with tahini.

When you love peanut butter as much as I do, you have a favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. And, in my case, my ultimate favorite is from my friend Jennie, who writes the blog, One Sweet Mess. So, when I was working on my recipe for tahini cookies, my other favorite thing (I have a lot of favorite things), I started out with her base.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Honey Tahini Overnight Oats

Overnight oats flavored with honey, tahini (sesame paste), banana and almonds.

Let's just say that it's a good thing I don't live with anybody who expects a hot breakfast because they would be very disappointed. Most days, I'm happy I've found time to pour milk into my cereal instead of just grabbing handfuls of it dry as I rush around. Needless to say, hot oatmeal is not a thing that happens around here without significant pre-planning. Overnight oats, though, are in regular rotation because all I have to do in the morning is grab them out of the fridge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tamari Roasted Vegetable Platter

Roasted vegetables glazed with a tamari, honey and mustard sauce.

One of my favorite ways to serve side dish vegetables to company is just to grill or roast a big platter of them and put them in the middle of the table for people to help themselves. I also think it's a fun appetizer with cocktails instead of the more expected cheese and dips.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pear Dutch Babies with Honey Labneh Cream

Dutch baby pancakes with caramelized pears and labneh yogurt cream.

Let's talk about how much there is to love about Dutch baby pancakes. The puff, the flavorings and, my personal favorite, the fact that they cook in the oven and I don't have to stand over a griddle flipping batches of pancakes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spinach and Feta Turnovers (Bourekas)

Savory puff pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese.

Puff pastry and frozen spinach are a couple of items that can usually be found in the back of my freezer somewhere. They're both useful to have around for all kinds of recipe options but, sadly, my freezer is underutilized. I keep nuts and vodka in there but tend to forget to look to it for food ideas. That needs to change.