Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake

Cardamom Yogurt Orange small cakeI promised to post this recipe eons ago (if you follow me on Facebook) and  I’m only now getting around to it. I think we have moved beyond the stage of apology at this point. One can only do as much as she can with the cards dealt to her, and mine include classes, research, interning, feeding the husband (hehe) and a growing number of extracurriculars as well. This is not to say I lay my excuses humbly at your feet, or my life has become monumentally more important than my blog. Nay, I cannot emphasize the degree to which I miss this blasted nook in my life, where I might seek escape and comfort amidst piles of books and heaps of spices.  I think grandly day and night about the possibilities that reside in this modest corner of the internet. Not even a corner, more like a floor pillow, or a footstool. A step to lead thoughts and tastes into hard-to-reach places.

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Blueberry Spinach and Chocolate Cake… What?

What with books upon books upon articles upon blogging upon events upon books upon trying to drum up the courage to speak up more in class, it’s no wonder I’m under a wee bit o’ stress. Also hasn’t helped that the husband has been away but he shall return in the offing, so at least that bit is solved. Now, what to do with all the other stress… I know! Sweets! Sweets and cakes and cookies and fruits and ice cream and brownies galore! Well, it surely hasn’t been a dining extravaganza the likes of Willy Wonka around here, but I have had my fair share of comfort food in the guise of delectable goodies. But since my regular running regimen isn’t quite up to snuff yet (ok regular has become thrice weekly? That’s improvement from nil eh?), I figured I ought at least try to make something semi decent without a thousand pounds of sugar and other monstrosities for my health.

And so… I googled. Naturally. And sure enough came across a recipe that was easy (and easily adaptable) and which I already had all the ingredients. Don’t be alarmed by the … well, the blues and greens. Trust me, this cake is all chocolate by the end of it. If you like richer or sweeter cakes, you might not go for this. But it turned out perfect for me, fluffy but with the right amount of density to lend a rich factor, not overly sweet but that can be adjusted to your liking. And best of all, not a scant hint of spinach whatsoever. I might try just a berry mixture or something next time, just for kicks. But for now, if you or someone you love won’t eat his or her veggies, you might as well try this. No harm. And Really, it soothed my soul. Continue reading

Mango Peach Cream Biscuits

Firstly firstly, Happy Father’s Day to all the caring, hardworking, relentlessly devoted, eccentric, and charmingly annoying dads out there. I’m fortunate enough that my dad is visiting us this weekend, so we’ll be treating him to something special and tasty. May you all have something special and tasty on your day too.
As for these scrumptious treats, as you know the department in which I work has suffered some losses in the past month. For the most part people lift their heads up and carry on–as is the only choice one has when affected by tragedy–but still the sadness lingers, especially on those closest to my coworker.  I thought it might be nice to bring a little treat in for them as a pick-me-up. It just so happens that I’m on a desperate spree to clear out everything in my kitchen to the best of my ability, so I figured now was high time to use the frozen peaches that lingered for too long cold and unwanted. Continue reading

Mango Cream Chiffon Cake

Mangoes. Mangoes are upon us. Mangoes from the local Pakistani/Indian grocery stores that come in big crates and demand your full attention with a single waft of their juicy aroma. It was actually quite difficult to use the mangoes for any kind of recipe that did not call for immediate slicing and consuming, because… well… that’s the best way to eat a mango. Juices dribbling down your chin in unadulterated, oblivious bliss. Anyone who says otherwise is either a snooty “proper” fool or just entirely unaware as to the joy of the mango.

Nevertheless, the husband did request the possibility of a tasty desert involving that heavenly fruit, and a chiffon cake came to mind immediately. Airy where the mango brings it to earth, light versus the richness of the mango, and a dynamite vehicle to carry that mango sweetness in its batter. Coupled with a cloud of whipped cream, this cake caresses the taste buds into comfort. In my mind, one of the best ways to enjoy a re-imagined mango… if you can’t just slurp on a mango.

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FLAN!! Coconut Cupcake style

20120507-215418.jpgCinco de Mayo, that faux-holiday of monstrously Americanized proportions, fell upon me with a cleaver of inspiration, vigorously chopping away any doubt as to what I would cook for friends coming over on Saturday. Perhaps it wasn’t as intense as that, but when the husband asked if I’d rather go out to eat or have them over, the insane nutter butter masochistic soul that I am instantly chose HOME!  Partly I just like to have cute little toddlers to play with (and they have one of the most adorable and cunning rascals), and partly the pseudo-Mexicana bug bit me and I just felt like cooking.

What resulted was 4 hours of super multitasking: marinating, mixing, sauteing, boiling, baking, chopping, roasting, and sweating.  But my goodness it was worth it: fresh salsa, my corny bean mash, Spanish rice, spicy chicken fajita-style atop roasted peppers, and of course dessert. So what better way to shout out my Latin American love then with another recipe I picked up south of the Border: a simple but luscious flan.

Flan was probably the easiest recipe I picked up in my language school culinary expedition, so it was both an easy decision and an easy task.  I decided to go a slightly different route by making individual cupcake-sized flans, but alas I kind of scorched my melted sugar caramel concoction, so my flan was missing one key element.  Because of that, I whipped in coconut to add a bit of Alya flare.  I think it worked.  The fact that the husband’s friend ate 2 (or was it 3?) might indicate it worked.  You decide. Continue reading

Gluten Free Chocolate Yogurt Cake

Yogurt gluten free cakeOut the window burns a luminous horizon, burgeoning with new opportunities on the brink of fruition. Which will evaporate and which will blossom in my grasp, I cannot say, but it’s exciting all the same. Among the not-so-likely is my upcoming trip to India with the husband, contingent upon a travel visa the country does not seem to want to grant me. I will not dwell on it, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be going in less than a month. POSITIVITY! Thy name is ALYA!

Right.

Among the more promising excursions into the promised land of the future is my newest endeavor with a local writing group sponsored by our library system. If you know me, you know I would do anything to avoid spotlight on most things, most notably direct attention upon me and my most personal ambition of becoming a novelist. But the husband dragged me kicking and screaming and heart palpitating and hyperventilating I went all the same, and it turned out to be fruitful, full of supportive people of all ages, not any of whom were likely to eat me alive with their carnivorous wit and bloodthirsty critiques.

Another promising activity was my first endeavor into the realm of gluten free experimentation! I honestly have no idea what to do with the flour; I read briefly the additional ingredients one usually needs to really lift up the dough so it isn’t dense or grainy, but… I’m not one for buying too many things unnecessarily that I won’t likely use much at all. I prefer to try out with what I have and then see from there. I had actually bought the gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill variety) because I’ve come to know a few people who either prefer it for personal reasons, or actually have wheat allergies, so this has been on my mind as a possibility for baking.

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Double Chocolate Maple Cookies

I haven’t baked in a while.  It feels rather wrong, but I have been trying in vain to control my insatiable sweet tooth.  I did make a quick berry puff with whipped cream for G and I once, but that doesn’t count because I used those packaged puff shells, and just simmered some berries in sugar and water to make a glaze to fill the shells.  That’s not baking. That’s EASY.

Nevertheless, I have been on a mission to get my exercise regimen back in shape (pun intended) so the sweets have to take a back seat.  Except when I mistakenly switch on the Food Network during what appears to be Comfort Food Weekend.  Except when I see the beauty that is a rich chocolately delicious cookie. Except when I can’t handle the withdrawal any longer and need to satisfy that stereotypical-for-a-reason female obsession for chocolate.

So I fiddled a bit and came up with this recipe for Double Chocolate Maple Cookies (with White Chocolate Chips), and then promptly made G take nearly all of them to work with him so I wouldn’t be unconscionably tempted by their alluring presence.  BTW the “double” comes from using both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the recipe.  Delish! Continue reading