Kale Caesar Salad

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I first became acquainted with the world of kale raw, in salads, at an awesome place called Sweetgreen. The Kale Caesar salad is nothing short of amazing- creamy Caesar dressing, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Parmesan crisps, chopped tomatoes, chicken, and of course, kale. I could eat that salad any day! Leah and I recently recalled that we’d seen a delicious-looking kale Caesar salad on a blog a little while ago, so we decided to give it a try!

This salad, though different from the Sweetgreen one, is still great. The homemade dressing is very flavorful (however, you’ll probably want a breath mint afterwards, though that’s a small price to pay to get to enjoy the salad!), the kale is crisp and fresh, and the homemade croutons and freshly grated Parmesan round the salad out well. You could also top yours with chicken, tomatoes (when they are in season), or whatever else you’d like, but this salad is also just wonderful the way it is- a simple Caesar salad!

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Kale Caesar Salad

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Serves 2-3 generously, 4-5 as an appetizer

Ingredients

For the dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
3-4 anchovy fillets
2½ tablespoons mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the salad:
1 bunch curly kale, about 8-12 ounces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Croutons (definitely worth the effort to make instead of buying them! They’re addictive!)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

For the dressing:

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.  Blot any excess oil from the anchovies, then smash repeatedly with the tines of a fork or the back of a knife until a paste has formed.  Add them to the olive oil-lemon juice mixture.  Add the mayonnaise and whisk the dressing briskly until a smooth emulsion has formed.  Season to taste with freshly ground pepper.  Stir in the grated Parmesan. Taste to check seasonings.

Rinse and towel dry the kale leaves.  Remove and discard the ribs from the leaves, and tear the curly green leaf portions into bite size pieces.  Add the kale to a large salad bowl with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and toss briefly.  Massage the kale leaves for a few minutes until the leaves have become shiny and turn a deeper green color, about 2-3 minutes (this will tenderize them since the leaves are not being cooked. I know it seems a little weird, but it works!).  Add croutons to the salad.  Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat.  Taste and add additional dressing as needed.  Top with remaining grated Parmesan and serve. Enjoy!

Crackers topped with Brie and Blackberry Compote

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It’s only fairly recently that I (Leah) discovered that I actually like brie, especially brie and fruit (probably thanks to these sandwiches). Since I’m not a huge fan of cheese, I kind of turned my nose up at cheese paired with fruit when I was little. However, I have luckily realized that creamy, slightly salty brie is a perfect pairing with sweet fruits.

If you’re lucking for an easy appetizer to serve on Christmas, look no further! The blackberry compote takes under 10 minutes and then people can serve themselves; put out a plate of crackers, a wedge of brie, and a bowl of compote, and your appetizer is ready. This would also be excellent hot, as the original source shows, so I will be sure to try that next- I’m sure it would be fantastic!

Merry Christmas, and we will be back soon with more recipes!

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Crackers topped with Brie and Blackberry Compote

Blackberry Compote adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Serves a variable number

Ingredients:

¼ cup water

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2¼ teaspoons lemon juice

6 ounces blackberries, divided

1/8 teaspoon or less dried thyme

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Brie

Crackers (we used pita crackers from Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

Cook the water, sugar and lemon juice over medium heat in a small pan. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then boil the mixture until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.

Place one cup of the blackberries and the syrup into a blender and allow to pulverize until smooth. Strain the seeds if you wish. Add the rest of the blackberries.

Glazed Cranberry Lemon Cake

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It feels so good to be home for Christmas! Getting back into the kitchen has been one of the best parts (and just being home in general!). Leah and I got home pretty late Wednesday night, and Thursday we looked around the kitchen to see what we had and noticed there was a bag of cranberries in the fridge. Conveniently, earlier in the week we had both spotted this awesome-looking cranberry lemon upside down cake on a blog we read and we decided to give it a try. Bundt cakes are delicious, but usually there’s only so much you can do with them in terms of making them look pretty. This cake, though, has the jewel-like layer of cranberries on top, which makes it very festive- perfect for any Christmas gathering!

The cake itself is a simple lemon buttermilk cake that is fast to whip up. You layer cranberries in the bottom of the pan with brown sugar and then pour the batter on top so that the cranberries are visible when you invert the cake. A quick lemon glaze tops it off and it’s ready for serving! We all loved this cake and it’s sure to become a Christmas favorite for years to come!

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Glazed Cranberry Lemon Cake

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Makes 1 Bundt Cake

Ingredients

For the cake:

12 tablespoons (6 oz.) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

2½ cups all-purpose flour

2½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups granulated sugar

Zest and juice of 2 lemons, divided

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

¾ cup buttermilk

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a Bundt pan with butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan in an even layer, then layer the cranberries over the sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the granulated sugar with the lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips to infuse the sugar with the lemon fragrance. Add the butter to the bowl with the lemon sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed.

In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Spread the batter into the prepared pan over the cranberries.

Bake about 50-55 minutes or until golden brown on top and just set (a tester inserted in the center should come out free of crumbs). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter, remove the pan and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar with 1½ tablespoons of the lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake

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Happy belated Thanksgiving! It’s been so long since we’ve published a blog post here. Since we left for college, we sadly have not had access to a kitchen (I can’t wait to be an upperclassmen when I have a kitchen in my dorm!). College has been going really well, but it was wonderful going home for Thanksgiving and getting back into the kitchen for a bit. We made some of our favorite things- lots of salad, these awesome pizzas from Smitten Kitchen, chocolate chip cookies, apple cake, French onion soup grilled cheeses, and more.

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Amongst the “more” is this cake, which we made in honor of our birthday/our Dad’s birthday (both of which happened while we were away at school). It’s two layers of pumpkin cake with a layer of dark chocolate cake, chocolate chip cream cheese filling, and dark chocolate frosting. It was also supposed to have a layer of caramel, but unfortunately we had to eyeball the temperature we were supposed to cook it to since our thermometer broke and miscalculated a bit, so our caramel seized up. Oh well! The cake was still fantastic without it, and very decadent (although I’m sure the caramel wouldn’t be an unwelcome addition!). The frosting is really reminiscent of fudge sauce, but thicker. This was definitely a nice treat to have at the beginning of break! We will be cooking up a storm throughout December/January when we go home for break, so there will hopefully be more blog posts coming during that time.

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Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake
 Recipe from Sweetapolita

Makes 1 3-layer 8-inch cake

Ingredients

For the chocolate cake layer:
3/4 cup (80 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/3 cup hot coffee
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the pumpkin cake layers:
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1//2 cup (120 g) packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Large pinch of sea salt
For the chocolate chip cream cheese filling:
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (190 g) powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, cut into cubes, softened
3/4 cup (120 g) mini chocolate chips
For the dark chocolate frosting:
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
1 1/4 cups (150 g) dark cocoa powder, sifted
Large pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

For the chocolate cake layer:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottom with a parchment paper round. Into a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, ,coffee, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until smoothly combined, for about 1 minute. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the spiced pumpkin cake layers:
Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper rounds.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add oil and vanilla and  beat for 30 seconds on medium. Add pumpkin and mix for 30 seconds more.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt, and add to the pumpkin mixture on the lowest speed.
Divide batter between prepared pans and bake on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a rack to let them cool fully.
For the salted caramel:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Brush down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush and increase the heat to medium-high.
Stop stirring and let the mixture cook until it turns amber, about 8 minutes. Quickly remove the saucepan from the heat and add the heavy cream and butter (the mixture will bubble/steam). Return the pan to medium-high heat, and using a candy thermometer, cook until the caramel reaches 248°F.
Transfer the caramel to a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla and sea salt. It will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
For the chocolate chip cream cheese filling:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 6 more minutes until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat for 1 more minute. Stir in the chocolate chips. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
For the dark chocolate frosting:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. The mixture will be thick and grainy.
Whisk in the heavy cream and sour cream. Heat until hot to the touch and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Transfer frosting to a heatproof bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until spreadable, about 3 hours.
Assembly:
On a cake board or plate, place one of the layers of pumpkin cake. Spread half of the cream cheese filling across it, and then top with half of the caramel (leaving 2 inches around the perimeter of the cake for the frosting to spread). Place chocolate cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of the filling and caramel. Top with a layer of the pumpkin cake. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.
Frost entire outside of cake with the frosting, using a thin layer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, and repeat with another layer of frosting. If desired, use a piping bag to decorate the cake and a pastry comb around the sides of the cake. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Keep the cake refrigerated if not using immediately  (let refrigerated cake sit for 2 hours before serving). Serve and enjoy!