Cranberry Gingerbread Cake

For an evening retreat I had earlier this week, we were gathering together and I offered to bring something.  They asked me to contribute dessert and I was excited about the prospect.  I knew a few attendees would be gluten-free, so I went to Danielle Walker’s Joyful Cookbook and found this recipe for Cranberry Gingerbread Cake.  I had everything on-hand except for the coconut sugar, so it seemed like another reason to make it.  I was really pleased with how it turned out and the flavor combination.  If you have gluten-free folks or paleo folks coming over during the holidays, this would be a great dish to serve.

As a note, I made this in a cheesecake pan.  It worked well, but didn’t raise extensively, so it could have been made in a round pan easily.

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake.jpg

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake

8 oz fresh cranberries
1 1/4 c maple syrup, divided
1/4 c unsalted butter, ghee, or palm shortening
1/2 c coconut sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 c unsweetened almond butter or sunflower butter
1/4 c coconut flour
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
zest from 1 lemon
2 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda*
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom or black pepper

*if using sunflower seed butter, substitute 2 tsp baking powder for 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan with coconut oil or butter and fit a piece of parchment paper.

Cook the cranberries and 1 c of maple syrup in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the berries have popped.  Mash them up slightly with a spoon.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, melt the butter, remaining 1/4 c maple syrup and 1/2 c coconut crystals, until the sugars are dissolved, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the 4 eggs, unsweetened almond butter or sunflower butter, coconut flour, cocoa powder, ginger, lemon zest, and juice, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, and cardamom to a blender or food processor.  Blend for 30 seconds on high until fully combined and smooth.

Add the melted butter mixture and blend again for 30 seconds.  Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

Reserve half of the cranberry compote for topping.  Drop spoonfuls of the remaining compote all around the pan, and then swirl with a knife until mostly incorporated.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for 1 hour before serving.  Store leftovers tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

Serve with additional cranberry compote and coconut milk whipped cream, if desired.

Slow Cooker Bourbon-Peach Baked Beans

I don’t know why, but I’ve been in a baked beans mood lately.  It might be a desire for some comfort food as the weather is getting colder.  Over the summer, I’d clipped this recipe from Cooking Light’s July 2017 magazine and had been looking for an opportunity to make it.  So, over lunch one day, I threw it in the crockpot and came home to some delicious baked beans.  The peach flavor was extremely subtle, whereas the bourbon flavor hit the nostrils.

Slow Cooker Bourbon-Peach Baked Beans

Slow Cooker Bourbon Peach Baked Beans

3 center cut bacon slices, chopped
Cooking spray
2 cans unsalted cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans unsalted pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 ripe peaches, peeled and finely diced (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c bourbon
1/4 c maple syrup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high.  Add bacon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove bacon from skillet.  Coat inside of a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Add bacon, beans, and remaining ingredients.  Stir well.

Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.  Keep covered until beans are ready to serve.

Maple-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Mustard Jus

Every once in awhile I want to make something that is a little process and labor-intensive.  This recipe had been hanging out on my to-make list for a bit, and while it’s not super intensive, it wasn’t a simple marinade and throw in the oven dish.  I used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because that’s what I had on-hand.  The entire dish was great, slightly sweet, with a nice level of saltiness to it.  It was definitely a possible looks-more-complicated-than-it-is entree.  The recipe came from Food and Wine 2011.

Maple Glazed Chicken with Mustard Jus


Maple-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Mustard Jus

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 c fresh bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 6-oz chicken breast halves with skin
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 c chicken stock
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a large ovenproof skillet, melt the butter.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook over moderate heat until golden.  Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a plate and let cool.  Wipe out the skillet.

Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add to the skillet skin side down.  Cook over moderately high heat until the skin is browned, 3 minutes.  Flip the chicken and roast in the oven for about 7 minutes, until just cooked through.

Return the skillet to the burner.  Add the syrup and vinegar; bring to a boil.  Turn the chicken skin side down and cook until richly glazed, 30 seconds.  Transfer to plates skin side up.  Add the stock to the skillet; boil until reduced by one-third, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.  Stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken.  Top with the crumbs and serve.

Coca Cola Cake

I was headed to a meeting after work last week and wanted to take some cake to this group of folks with whom I’d been working.  I saw this recipe for Coca-Cola cake, which seemed super intriguing to me, so I thought it would be fun to make.  I saw the recipe in the Linn County Fair Cookbook.  It looked pretty and tasted delicious.  All was going according to plan until two hours before the meeting, it was canceled.  So, I took some cake to a couple neighbors, including some students who were raking their leaves down the block from me.  It seemed like a good way to spread some cheer on a Monday afternoon.

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Coca-Cola Cake

2 c flour
2 c sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 c coca cola
1 c butter
1 1/2 c miniature marshmallows
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla


1/2 c butter
1 Tbsp cocoa
6 Tbsp coca cola
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 c pecans, chopped

Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar.  In a saucepan, combine cocoa, Coca-Cola, butter, and marshmallows; bring to a boil.  Combine the boiled mixture with the flour and sugar mixture.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla; add to the first mixture.  Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, until cake tests done.

Frosting: In a saucepan, bring butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola to a boil.  Stir in the nuts.  Spread over cake while both cake and frosting are still warm.

Black-Bottom Maple Pecan Bars

With Thanksgiving only days away at this point, it’s fun to think about something slightly outside the norm for dessert.  When I made these bars from the Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook, I found them slightly addicting.  Without the complications of a pie and making sure it set, these pecan bars had a rich maple flavor and a bite was satisfying, whereas a full bar was almost too rich.  Yum.  A Thanksgiving dessert where I don’t want to eat the whole thing?  What more could I want?  So, if you realized you don’t want to make a pie for Thanksgiving, check out these bars and put them together today!

Black Bottom Maple Pecan Bars

Black-Bottom Maple-Pecan Bars

Cocoa Crust

1 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c butter, cut into cubes and chilled

Pecan Filling

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 c heavy cream

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8-in square baking pan.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.  Scatter the chilled butter cubes over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Do not overprocess; the dough will look very dry and crumbly.

Press the dough into the prepared pan evenly across the bottom and about 1 in up on the sides; it should be about 1/2 in thick.  Bake until the crust looks dry and slightly puffed, about 15 minutes.

To make the filling: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the pecans and cream, reduce to a simmer, and cook until bubbling and warmed through, about 3 minutes.

When the crust is done, gently press down on any puffed-up areas.  Pour the filling evenly over the crust.  Bake until the filling has thickened and is bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Cut into 9 squares and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Chip and Candied Ginger Blondies

I was taking some snacks to colleagues at work and had some candied ginger in my cupboards I wanted to use.  This combination in with chocolate chips in a bar was very intriguing.  The ginger added a great background flavor that I might not have placed otherwise, but that was tasty when I tasted the bars.  I think they went over well — at least I received an empty container back a few weeks later.  The recipe originally came from The Good Neighbor Cookbook.  They were easy to throw together and I’d recommend for something slightly outside the norm.

Chocolate Chip and Candied Ginger Blondies.jpg

Chocolate Chip and Candied Ginger Blondies

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter
1 1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 1/4 c sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c chocolate chips
1 c loosely packed candied ginger, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer with a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, sugar, on medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and ginger.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a  toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool for at least 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing.

Broccoli-Green Olive Salad

A couple weeks ago we had a funeral at church and I volunteered to bring a salad.  I’d been wanting to try this recipe from Breitbach’s Country Dining Cookbook and it seemed like a good time to make it.  Broccoli and green olives seemed like a unique combination, and when I tasted it, I thought it was pretty good.  There was a strong flavor of dill in the dressing, but I may have noticed it because outside of dill pickles, dill is far from my favorite flavor.  But, in this salad, it seemed alright.

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Broccoli Green Olive Salad


1 c mayonnaise
1 c sour cream with chives
1 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp dill weed
1 Tbsp garlic salad mix


1 c green olives
1 green pepper, chopped

Mix all together and serve.