When Life Gives You Blood Oranges…

When Life Gives you Blood Oranges...When trying to decide what to write about today, my mind went a million different directions… honestly, a lot of them were bleak.  It took a few minutes of stillness to refocus, remove the negativity, and replace it with something uplifting.  Let’s be real, this world is broken and dark; it’s what we choose to do in the moments of darkness that define us.

I have been watching a TV show called “This is Us” recently… it is such a beautiful mess of a family that has their fair share of struggles.  Early on in the series, [and heads up, spoiler alert!] a young couple finds out they lost one of their triplets during childbirth.  In a sweet moment overlooking his two newborns, the doctor says to the father:

“I like to think that one day you’ll be an old man like me talkin’ a young man’s ear off explainin’ to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned.”

The couple does in fact end up taking home three babies instead of two, by adopting a baby boy abandoned at a fire station that morning.  You see, they were always meant to have three children, they were destined to be “the Big Three”…  it’s amazing how a change in perspective can turn a situation around.

When Life Gives you Blood Oranges...What are the lemons life has given you and how can you take steps to turn them into something resembling lemonade? Personally, I love lemons and don’t see why they are always depicted so negatively… they are so yummy, sour, and the zest is superb for baking… but for the sake of the metaphor, I’ll allow the connotation.  One of the “lemons” in my life is this season of “middle” I am in… a season of transition, knowing I am headed in the right direction yet eager to JUST BE THERE ALREADY!  It takes everything in me to slow my role and be content with the fact that life is a journey.

Now, I know we’ve been talking a lot about lemons, but I just HAD to share some exciting news with y’all… that BLOOD ORANGES ARE IN SEASON!!! I was at the grocery store the other day and saw them sitting there, smiling back at me, just waiting to be included in an awesome recipe.  How could I resist? I promptly scoured through the Pinterest world for some inspiration and came up with this beautiful collaboration of a blood orange upside-down poppy seed cake with an earl grey glaze… the tartness of the blood oranges pairs lovely with the hint of earl grey, almost neutralizing it, and the poppy seeds add another dimension altogether!

When Life Gives you Blood Oranges...
Blood Orange Upside-Down Poppy Seed Cake with an Earl Grey Glaze

I wish my reaction toward the lemons of life was the same as my reaction to seeing blood oranges in the produce section… I can’t wait to bring them home and transform them into something beautiful and unique.  In that spirit, when faced with “lemons” in the future, I will see them in a different light, and instead, think to myself…

… when life gives you blood oranges, what will you make out of it?

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:13-16

Blood Orange upside down Poppy Seed cake with an Early Grey glazeWhen Life Gives You Blood Oranges...Makes 9″ Round

Ingredients

1 cup (230 g) Brown Sugar

¾ cup Oil

4 Eggs

1 ¾ cups (230 g) Flour

2 ¼ tsp Baking Powder

¾ tsp Salt

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Tbsp Poppy Seeds

Juice and Zest of 1 Blood Orange (plus more for slicing)

¾ cup Greek Yogurt (I use 0% Fage)

Butter and brown sugar for pan

Earl Grey Glaze

Earl Grey Teabag

1 cup Milk

2 cups Powdered Sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and prep your 9″ round pan by greasing it with melted butter, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar over the butter and add slices of blood oranges in whatever design you prefer. OR if the whole “upside-down” concept is just a little too overwhelming for you, just grease your baking pan with crisco and dust with flour to make a normal cake.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar and oil till combined. Add eggs, blood orange juice, zest, and vanilla; stir till combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour. Mix till smooth, then add poppy seeds and stir till combined.
  5. Pour mixture over sliced blood oranges in 9″ round pan. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or till cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Trim the top of the cake if needed (to ensure the cake will be level once it is flipped over) and swiftly turn the cake upside-down onto a cooling rack.
  7. While cake is cooling, steep earl grey teabag in hot milk for about 5 minutes. Combine tea, one tablespoon at a time with powdered sugar in a small bowl. Note: you’ll want to mix till a glaze is created that is not too thick yet not too runny.
  8. Once cake has cooled, transfer to desired plate, cake stand etc. and spread glaze on top, letting it spill over edges slightly.  Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze (a spoon will work just fine too).
  9. Enjoy!

Happy Baking!!

The Irish Reuben Sandwhich

 
Not sure what to do with those leftovers from St. Paddy’s Day? Didn’t have the time or energy to make it all happen on a Thursday night? I feel you… Don’t fret though, there’s still time to get your annual dose of Irish cooking in. Just hop on over to the grocery store and grab a corned beef brisket, a head of lettuce, an onion, rye bread and jarlesberg cheese… And make these Irish Reuben Sandwhiches this weekend! They are to die for!! 

The Irish Reuben
(Enough for PLENTY of Sandwhiches!)

4 lb Corned Beef Brisket (see ingredient list in the preparation section below for my recipe on making this yourself)

¼ Cup Olive Oil

1 Onion (thinly sliced)

1 Head Cabbage (thinly sliced)

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Pepper

½ Cup Water

1 Cup Guiness Beer

3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Loaf of Pumpernickel or Dark Rye Bread

Jarlesberg Cheese (sliced)

Spicy Mustard  and Butter for spreading
Preparation:

Pull out those leftovers of corned beef or just make one yourself… Here’s how:

 In a crockpot, combine ½ onion (sliced), 5 red potatoes (quartered), 1  1/2 cups baby carrots, and 2 cups water. Place brisket on top. Pour ½ bottle Guinness on top of the brisket, sprinkle with pre packaged spices that came with the brisket, then set the crockpot on high and let it cook for 8 hours. (If you’d like to add sliced cabbage, just stir that in about an hour before serving)

Now that we have our corned beef ready, lefts work on making the grilled cabbage for the sandwich. 

In a large pan, heat olive oil and combine onion, cabbage, salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, stirring often, till the veggies start to brown and soften. Add water and beer, reduce heat to low, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, and cook uncovered an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Now to assemble this amazing Irish beast of a sandwhich… It’s just like making a grilled cheese!

  
Butter one side of bread and place it face down on a skillet (don’t turn on the heat just yet). Spread the other side of bread with mustard and layer ingredients accordingly: 

Butter ➕ Bread ➕ Mustard ➕ Cheese ➕ Cabbage ➕ Corned Beef ➕ Cabbage ➕ Cheese ➕ Mustard ➕ Bread ➕ Butter

Finally, top with final slice of bread, mustard side down, and butter the top.  Set to medium-low heat and let each side cook till cheese melts a bit. Be patient and let your sandwhich brown slowly at this lower heat as to not burn it!

  
 Now, the moment you’ve been waiting and your mouth has uncontrollably been salivating for… Cut the sandwhich in half, garnish with a pickle if you so desire (I forgot to add that in my picture in all the excitement of wanting to eat this myself), and chow down on this flavorful Irish Reuben Sandwhich! 

Happy (day after) St. Paddy’s Day ☘

Luck o’ the Irish Soda Bread

Well, Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you all!

I must begin by telling you how much fun I had in doing this photo shoot for my most recent Sweet Creation… Sweet Irish Soda Bread! My roommate Karley and I recently discovered our shared passion for blogging… and have utilized our unique gifts to make this photo shoot a success.  Karley is the one to thank for these amazing shots… she has such an artistic eye and gift for fashion, sure to make any girl a fashionista!  I have lived under the same roof as her for less than a year and can confidently say she has improved my overall sense of fashion and style since moving in with her… I was a boring mess!  Karley is such an inspiration to me; she pursues her passions and gifts full force and strives to devote time to things in life that will build her up and help her thrive!  She is a go-getter, my dance soulmate, face mask partner, harmonizer, and last but not least… has become a great friend!

Do yourself a favor and follow her blog NOW!!

Click here for Karley’s Blog!!

If you know me at all, you know that I am very enthusiastic and love, love, LOVE to celebrate any and every occasion imaginable! One only needs to step foot in my living room and glance up at the golden deer named “Rolf” mounted on the wall to see the current celebratory season and/or holiday displayed on his antlers (full disclosure… he is fake and from target).  One of my favorite holidays to celebrate is a day where it’s not only acceptable to pinch people, but is encouraged; a day where ordering a “Jameson on the rocks” it TOTALLY normal; a day where it’s impossible to hold back feeble attempts at an Irish accent (go ahead, let’s hear you say “Top O’ the Mornin’ to Ya!”); and a day where the color green is EVERYWHERE you look. As an Irish girl myself, I just had to devote my March blog post to this joyous day… St. Paddy’s Day!

You see, I am a myriad of different ethnicities… really though, I’m a mutt… I look like an Irish girl, claim an Italian last name, and love to see the shock on people’s face when they hear that I’m Armenian!  Sometimes I wish I could claim ownership of just a few nationalities to make my story and background a little LESS cmplicated…  but that would be so dull!!  I love the fact that my family is diverse and celebrates each part of our history, no matter how small a percentage we may actually be.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always made an effort to make each holiday special… and St. Paddy’s Day was no exception.  She carried on many traditions, including making corned beef and cabbage for dinner and blarney stones for dessert.  As a baker myself, I strive to make connections between my heritage and the baking realm… and through the years I have grown to love the tradition of Irish Soda Bread!

Traditionally, Irish Soda Bread was a poor man’s bread.  It is made with the most basic ingredients that are also quite inexpensive… flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk (also known as soured milk).  Baking soda is used as the leaven in this recipe instead of yeast; making this a quick and easy bread to throw together in a pinch.  Also, traditional irish soda bread is made in a round shape with a scored “x” on the top (to ward off the evil spirits)… learning about these faith-based rituals is quite fun for me (I’m sure Hot Crossed Buns have a similar meaning, being popular during the Easter season).  Through the years, there have been additions to this classic bread that, in my opinion, only enhance the flavor!  The recipe I’d like to share with you is more of a sweet bread; perfect by itself and for anytime of the day.  I just know you will fall in love with this recipe and will feel comfortable making it in your own home to celebrate the day… because hey, everyone’s a little Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!  😉

Sweet Irish Soda Bread 

 1 Cup Raisins (150 g)

1 Cup Dried Cherries (125 g)

3 Cups Flour

1 Cup Sugar

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

¼ Cup Shortening

1/12 Cups Almond Milk

2 Eggs, slightly beaten

Sugar in the Raw (for sprinkling on top)

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to boil. Add raisins and cherries and continue to boil for 3 minutes (this will plum the dried fruit a bit). Drain and lightly coat with flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add shortening and use your CLEAN fingers to blend ingredients together until well incorporated. Stir in milk and eggs until fully moistened.  Finally, fold in dried fruit mix until evenly mixed.

Pour batter into a well greased and floured loaf pan and sprinkle generously with sugar in the raw.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing bread from pan.

Enjoy!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day… and, Happy Baking!

Oh My Heart… Oh, and Sweetheart Cherry Turnovers

IMG_2261.JPGCan I take a moment to be honest? It being the month of February, I find it only fitting to share my heart with you… both through baking and in my own personal life.  That is why I’ve chosen these amazing Sweetheart Cherry Turnovers as my featured recipe and tutorial! Aren’t they just the sweetest? With little hearts scored on top, they are perfect for Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or… ANY DAY!!

As much as I love these heart-inspired turnovers, their flaky crust and gooey cherry filling that yearns to escape through every creese and flaw imaginable, remind me how fragile our own hearts truly are.  I don’t often allow myself to be this vulnerable, but can I just say… the month of February is hard for a single girl!  Right as you feel you’ve recovered from the Christmas season, you realize what holiday is next on the calendar… and panic ensues.  February  is a month when the reality of ones singleness is made evidently clear through the constant reminder of love around every corner… literally.

Just the other day, I took a detour from my normal commute home to make a quick Target run… in search for a planner for the New Year. Whilst in a stellar mood, thinking about all the things that will soon be accomplish with the help of this handy dandy planner, I strolled down the aisles in pursuit of the next item on my shopping list.  As I turned the corner to look for my favorite toothpaste, I was stopped in my tracks by the sea of red and pink that made up the Valentine’s candy display.  Now, if I would have purchased my planner early in January, like most organized and goal-striving people, I would have possibly glanced at the upcoming month and had more time to process this shift of emotions that would soon come over me.  But alas, I procrastinated, and not only did I get the snickelefritz of the remaining unwanted planners, I was left with a sinking reminder of my relationship status.

The thing is, I am not a love-bashing or cynical person at all; on the contrary, it makes me happy to see others happily in love.  I’m a sap, a hopeless romantic, I LOVE love, and hope to someday join this party you all seem to be so fond of… but the fact of the matter is, I’m not there yet. I know we all go through seasons of life where we feel broken and struggle to see the light.  I would consider myself an extremely positive, strong, and grounded individual… yet somehow, this season of singleness has knocked me down like no other. Just like any other struggle, I know that it potentially has the power to daily take over my thoughts and consume me… Who am I kidding, of course there have been moments where this has happened…

But in the midst of all this, I have a hope… A light that I know will always outshine this darkness.  I know that there is work being done in me that only this time of singleness can accomplish. I know that God is good, that he hears our cries and prayers. I choose to look for the light in the darkness, not merely because it will lead me out of whatever it is I am facing, but it also will reveal what was once unseen.

I know I am not alone in this battle, there are so many who feel the pains of being alone. I encourage you to take heart, and look for the blessings and opportunities that this season has allowed.  Give yourself grace in times of frustration and guilt; your pain is real, valid and felt by so many who don’t often express it.  And know that, when others fail you (as imperfect humans tend to do), God will always be by your side guiding you and even carrying you through this.

You see, the beautiful thing about these turnovers (recipe to follow shortly, I promise) is that they take prepping and mending but also need ample room to vent and let steam loose.  May you take special care of your own heart this Valentine’s Day, whether in a relationship or not, listening and tending to it’s needs but also allowing it to be expressed to those you love.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” – Psalm 73:26

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

 

 

Sweetheart Cherry Turnovers

Yields: 16 Turnovers

Pie Crust Ingredients (Makes 3-9″ pie crusts or about 16-3″ turnovers)

3 cups (375 g) All-Purpose Flour

1 ½ cups (249 g) Crisco

1 tsp Salt

1 Egg

5 Tbsp Cold Water

1 Tbsp Vinegar


Flour (for dusting)

1 Egg white + 1 Tbsp Water (for egg wash)

Coarse Sugar (for sprinkling)

Cherry Filling Ingredients:

3 Tbsp Cornstarch

3 Tbsp Cold Water

4 cups Fresh Cherries, pitted (or 24 oz frozen cherries, unthawed)

1 ⅓ cups Dried Cherries

1 cup sugar

4 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

¼ tsp Kosher Salt

 

Directions:

First, prep your pie crust! It will need to sit in the freezer for a good 20-30 minutes.  This is a great step to do ahead of time, I like to have some on hand just in case any pie-related emergency should occur… if you have some already made and frozen, just let the dough thaw till it is workable, about 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, measure you flour, crisco and salt; with a pastry cutter (or fork), blend together till dry ingredients are fully incorporated.  In a separate small bowl, lightly mix together the remaining wet ingredients (egg, water, and vinegar), add this to your dough and gently fold until just combined (this step is important! Don’t overdo it!).  Put dough in a gallon-size ziploc bag, press down to flatten slightly, and freeze for at least 15 minutes.

OR you could just go out and buy one of those pre-made pie crusts from the grocery store… I won’t judge you… but this is my favorite pie crust recipe from the Pioneer Woman, it is pretty spectacular!

While you’re waiting for your pie crust to freeze, start prepping the cherry filling.  In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and water; this will be the thickening agent for later, so set it aside.  In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients (cherries, dried cherries, sugar, lemon juice vanilla and salt), cook on medium heat till cherry juices are released, stirring occasionally.  This should take about 5 minutes for fresh cherries; I used frozen cherries and it took closer to 8 minutes.  Add thickening mixture and bring to boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

While that is cooling, we will go ahead and prep our pie crust and egg wash.  In a small bowl mix together egg white with water to make the egg wash, plop a brush in that and set aside for later.  On a lightly floured surface, knead dough slightly and roll out to about ⅛” thickness.  Now at this point, you can choose what shape you’d like your turnover to be! Isn’t that exciting? If I’m being honest, the ones I made were shapeless, I had extras from a Native American baby shower where I made these cherry turnovers in the shape of little TP’s.  I would recommend using a 3″ circle cookie cutter and make tops and bottoms from that; you can also do the folding-in -half method, just make your shapes larger.

By this time, hopefully your cherry filling has cooled down. Scoop about 2 Tbsp onto a 3″ pie round, then brush egg wash along the edges.  Place another 3″ pie round on top, press down the edges lightly and seal using a fork to crimp.  Using a sharp knife, create slits on top for venting; you can draw a heart, or just a few lines… whatever suites your fancy.  Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle a little coarse sugar on top.  Place turnovers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 375° for about 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

And there you have it!  I am so pleased to share this Cherry Turnover recipe with you… it has been adapted from  a couple of different recipes, with an amazing end result (crust from the pioneer woman and filling from mybakingaddiction.com).  I look forward to sharing my future recipe collaborations with you, thanks for stopping by… and…

Happy Baking!!

%d bloggers like this: