Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sponge Cake for your Diet

The temperature is heating up in California and ladies are getting bikini ready for the summer. If you are putting yourself on a diet you may be inclined to not eat desert after your meal. But there are options with lower calories than regular sweets. For example, I made a sponge cake using no oil or butter. Doesn't that sound healthy already?

This sponge cake uses boiling water to replace the butter or oil in a traditional recipe. Since you are leaving the butter or oil out, you may feel less guilty dressing it up with strawberries and whip cream. :)
Sponge Cake with no Oil or Butter
recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp grated lemon or orange zest
1 tbs fresh lemon or orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Beat egg yolks at medium speed until thickened. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat 3 minutes longer. Beat in water, orange or lemon zest, orange or lemon juice and vanilla extract.

At low speed gradually beat in the sifted ingredients.
Using clean beaters in a medium bowl, beat egg whites adding cream of tartar until soft but not dry.
Fold one quarter of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites.
Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
I cut small round cakes, top them with strawberry slides, whipped cream and top with another cake.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chewy Lemon Cookies

I've been receiving lemons from several friends lately. The lemon farmers must be doing great. Lemon desserts are one of my favorite types. The lemons give a freshness taste to the dessert.

I made chewy lemon cookies from a recipe from a fellow blogger. These cookies are covered in powder sugar once they are out of the oven. I tried one without the powder sugar, and one after to taste the difference. The powder sugar makes it better. If you like your lemonade sweet, don't skip the powder sugar.

Chewy Lemon Snowdrops
(makes about 24)
1 3/4 all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
zest of 2 lemons
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons lemon juice
about 1 cup powder sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix butter, lemon juice, zest and honey until smooth.

Combine lemon juice and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add lemon juice and flour mixture. Scrape down sides and mix with a spatula to make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Roll cookie dough into 1 inch diameter and bake 10-15 minutes. (Mine were done in 12) Let cool for a few minutes and toss into powder sugar while cookies are still warm. The powder sugar seems to stick to the cookies better while they are warm.

And enjoy some fresh chewy lemon cookies!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unwind at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards

Like many, my brother and I visited our parents over the Easter weekend. Have I mentioned that I grew up in the central coast? I moved from one wine country to another (San Joaquin Valley). When we visit our hometown, I nag at my brother early Saturday morning so we have time to stop at a winery in the Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria area. Someday I'd like to visit them all.

During this visit to the central coast, we stopped at a winery on our way back to the valley. I quickly researched beforehand to figure out which were open on Easter. After reading reviews and their hours, I decided on Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. The apple wines caught my attention.

This is a family owned vineyard, which started as a retirement project for Dick and Dolores Kelsey. It has now become a full time business for the family. Their children and grandchildren are involved from growing the grapes to managing the winery.

The winery is located near Avila Beach towards the hills. We followed the signs and a road with many turns to arrive at our destination.

Somehow during reading the reviews, I missed that they have peacocks on their property! They have about 100 peacocks on the property and have been at this location for about 30 years. They seemed not to be afraid of people and got very close. Maybe they wanted me to feed them. The winery has peacock food pouches you may purchase for $2 to feed the peacocks.

They were modeling for the camera!

Enough about the beautiful peacocks and back to the wine...

We had the tasting of six wines of our choice from the wine list. I'll tell you about the apple wines. The apples in the wine are local from See Canyon. The wines are apple cider blended with a wine variety. The apple cider is subtle so it's not your apple cider you'd drink at Thanksgiving as a child. Avila Springs is just down the road; these would be perfect to drink while relaxing in the springs.

The "Red Delicious" is labeled as the Hot Tub Wine. I thought it was for the springs near by. Then I read the back of the label...


Wine Description from the Wine List...
2010 "Red Delicious" A nice relaxing blend of See Canyon Cider and Zinfandel that goes just as well on a warm summer night in the hot tub as it does with a happy BBQ with the family.

2010 "Golden Delicious" A unique fruit wine featuring a 50/50 blend of See Canyon Apples and Chardonnay grapes, this is a great wine equally for a hot summer day, or a nice spicy dish.

Make sure to check them out if you are looking for a place to relax, sip some wine, and enjoy the central coast weather.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Many families get together on Easter to decorate eggs. Once decorated, they hide the eggs and have the children find them. But once you place them on the dirt, I'm not too sure I'd like to eat them. I have another idea to get everyone together, decorate, and eat your creation!

These are Easter baskets made from cupcakes. Easy, and you may involve all of your family members.

These are the supplies you'll need:
Edible Easter Grass
Candy eggs
Candy bunnies, chicks, ducks
Sour Punch Straws
First, bake cupcakes and let them cool. Once they are cool frost them with your frosting of choice. I made some vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting.

Cut Edible Easter grass and place on top of cupcakes.

Add the Sour Punch Straws as the basket handles.

Add Easter egg candies and your basket topper candies.

Kids can have fun putting these cupcakes together and followed by the favorite part, eat them!