Monday, January 31, 2011

This is where the food lives!

My friend Summer and I can never sit next to each other long before the conversation turns to cooking. We're both avid home cooks and love talking shop together. We were once talking about organizing a kitchen after a move and that's when she says, "It's the most important room in the house. This is where the food lives!"

My room mate and I have been living in our current apartment for nine months. Neither of us have any plans on leaving our wonderful little home and so I am beginning to truly nest. This will be the first place I live in longer than a year and that's pretty awesome. But this also means some serious organization needs to happen because I know the longer we live here the more stuff is going to come live here too.

But I am starting small... the pantry. Thank goodness we got this pantry. With all our pots, glasses, plates, and what have you... there was almost no place to put food.  (Summer... that's your cue.) I want to get a couple of lazy susans to organize the spices, baskets for the root vegetables, and maybe some plastic containers for the dry goods I use regularly. I know my mom had some Tupperware storage containers. So hopefully I can track that stuff down. I also want to put a couple of baskets on top to store our plastic containers.

I'll also be going through my stuff and culling gadgets, appliances, and other things I don't use. Tackling the kitchen before I move on to closets! This is supposed to be easy, right?

Are you doing any nesting of your own? Is the thought of cleaning out your closet too horrifying to imagine? Isn't spring here yet? Share your story with me in the comments section.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sesame Tuna Salad

As I've said before, I never resolute to eat better or lose weight. That's just been the goal for the last few years of my life. However, I will admit the new year always bring me back to a sense of dedication. I joined up with Weight Watchers (again) last week and just as I imagined, it's working out quite well. I am slowly going to get back into exercising, but this time I am focusing on strength training. If I never had to step foot on elliptical again, it would be fine with me!

Eating right with winter vegetables is proving to be a challenge. Traditionally, starchy root vegetables are what most dieters try to stay away from. I have noticed this year that more companies are pushing seasonal recipes (including Weight Watchers) and that makes me happy! EatingWell On a Budget is a great cookbook! They claim that every recipes is $3 or less a serving. This book is awesome because it has a lot of seasonal recipes (because eating in season IS cheaper, people). So that brings us to today's little salad.

This is a very simple no cook recipe that uses cabbage (the heart of winter produce) and canned tuna. If you have a well stocked pantry, then this should be easy peasy. I used red onions instead of scallions, carrots instead of snow peas, and dried ginger instead of fresh. I had no cilantro, but it really would have added something nice to the recipe. Of course I halved the recipe. I got two servings out of it which I ate on two different days. I am not opposed to leftovers, I just don't want gobs of them. If I had planned a little further ahead, I would have served this with my Thai butternut squash soup I had in the freezer.

Sesame Tuna Salad
(Serves 4)

1/4 cup rice vinegar or lemon juice

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 5- to 6-ounce cans water-packed chunk light tuna, drained
1 cup sliced sugar snap peas or snow peas
2 scallions, sliced
6 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
4 radishes, julienne-cut or sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Whisk vinegar (or lemon juice), canola oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and ginger in a small bowl.

2. Combine 3 tablespoons of the dressing with tuna, peas and scallions in a medium bowl.

3. Divide cabbage among 4 plates. Mound one-fourth of the tuna mixture (about 1/2 cup) in the center of each plate and garnish with radishes, cilantro and sesame seeds. Drizzle with the remaining dressing (about 2 tablespoons per salad) and season with pepper.

Per serving: 228 calories; 16 g fat (2 g sat, 9 g mono); 12 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrates; 2 g added sugars; 14 g protein; 3 g fiber; 353 mg sodium; 200 mg potassium.

Can also be found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Before & After

Okay... so I have realized that over the last four years I have made a lot of new friends. Most of these friends know me as I am now - the mostly healthy fresh food cook. However, I also have friends that I have known for a long time now. They knew high school and college Mandy. The girl who loved every carb known to man (usually with cheese or frosting on top of it). I was a pretty heft girl back in the day.

At my Three King's Day party, I had a  long-time friend that was complimenting me on how good I looked and how impressed she was with my habits now. My new friend just looked lost and confused. So I had to explain that I used to be fat. No... I am not talking about losing the 15lbs you gained in college. I am talking about losing a lifetime of weight - 70lbs to be exact.

So I decided it was time to share the photos. A lot of my friends are battling the weight loss game and I know just how motivational pictures can be. I still run into people from college who haven't seen me since graduation, and their reactions are enough to make me beam with pride for the rest of the day. For the most part, I keep these photos hidden. I went through my online profiles a couple of years ago and wiped out the evidence.

Here are the befores. They were taken a mere few weeks after my mother's death (Spring 2007) - and this was ultimately the biggest I ever was. 235lbs

And here are my afters. I teeter between 155-160lbs. I am currently trying to get down to 140 and get some muscle tone. So I guess you could say, I am just completing the finishing touches.

So, my dear friends. All I can say is, if I can do it - so can you. Good luck on your journey! [Especially dedicated to all my friends who are testing out the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program with me. May we not turn into the group of women who sit around and talk about points all the time.]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carrots in Citrus Vinaigrette

Short post today! Third recipe from Recipes from the Root Cellar. Super easy to cut in half. I cut mine into matchsticks which took way too long. Next time I might just cut into kind of thin slices. Great way to perk up carrots! Enjoy!

P.S. I used red onions instead of shallots.


Carrots in Citrus Vinaigrette
(Serves 4-6)

1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 carrots, peeled and cut into match  sticks

1. Combine the shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, mustard, and gingner in a blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and blanch until tender crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain.

3. Transfer the carrots to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Napa Cabbage and Carrots with Rice Wine-Oyster Sauce

The last few weeks I have not received a box of vegetables due to the holidays and this outrageously icy week we've been having. So I am scraping bottom. Potatoes, carrots, and cabbage are what remain in my kitchen. Thankfully, I put a bunch of stuff in the freezer. I assure you, Mallory and I are not starving.

Determined not to let cabbage become a wallflower, I was ready to see what else I could do with it. I used half a head of cabbage and one carrot. I substituted some red onion for the shallot and dried ginger for the fresh. I think it's supposed to be a side dish, but I served it on top of some steamed rice and decided it served two. However, Mallory and I got about three meals out of it.

What's left in your fridge? Did you stock up on bread and peanut butter?

Napa Cabbage and Carrots with Rice Wine-Oyster Sauce
(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot, (1 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage, (about 8 ounces)
1 cup thinly sliced carrot, (1 large)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine, or dry sherry

2 teaspoons oyster-flavored sauce, or vegetarian oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Rice Wine-Oyster Sauce: Whisk rice wine (or sherry), oyster sauce, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl canola oil into the pan, add shallot and garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add cabbage and carrot and stir-fry until the cabbage just begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Stir Rice Wine-Oyster Sauce and swirl it into the pan; cook for 30 seconds. Stir-fry until the cabbage and carrot are tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info
Serving - 1/2 Cup
Calories - 119
Fat - 8
Fiber - 2

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are one of my favorite foods. My dad lived in San Diego for most of my life and whenever I visited I love getting baja style fish tacos. Some Mexicans I know sneer at the idea of fish tacos because "that's not Tacos! That's Tex Mex". Well, the taste is so good I can't help but eat them up. So when I found a recipe in Recipes from the Root Cellar for winter fish tacos - I knew it was time!
Okay, so I feel kind of bad. A lot of the recipes lately haven't been specifically tailored for two. However, I try to post recipes that cut in half easily or freeze well. This recipe is super easy to cut in half. Yes, it serves three - but come on! Leftover fish tacos? Is that really something to complain about? I didn't think so. I actually made the full recipe because I had some beloved friends over.

First, the pickled red onions. They were probably my favorite part of the whole meal. Who knew I would love pickled red onions quite so much. I have already vowed to make a whole jar full to keep in my fridge for any given moment. Okay... so I did have to look up what non-reactive meant. I still don't know exactly what that means, but I used a small glass pan to make them. I am sure any ovenproof casserole dish would work. It's well worth it my friends!

The fish and marinade are easy enough. I just used a fish called whiting (??) because that is what Aldi had available. Like it says, any white fish will do. Okay, lets talk about the sour cream sauce. I made exactly what the recipe asked for, but four people barely put a dent in it. Unless you have some sort sauce crazy friends - you should probably make just enough. For example, 1/2 cup sour cream 1/8 cup mayonnaise for four people OR 1/4 cup sour cream and 1 or 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise for two people. I think I might shred up some cabbage and just make a slaw with the leftover sauce - because there is a ton of it left. And yes mayonnaise haters - you could probably just leave it out completely or use something else. I got my tortillas from a local Mexican grocery store (where I ate a tongue taco - it wasn't bad!), but they look too perfect to be made fresh. Next time I'll just buy mission tortillas and be happy about it.

I served these with a carrot salad (coming soon) and black beans. Good friends and good food, life aint too shabby!


Winter Fish Tacos
(Serves 6)

Pickled Red Onion
1 small red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of hot pepper sauce

Fish and Marinade
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 pounds mahimahi or other white fish fillet

Sour Cream Sauce
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoons (packed) finely grated lime zest
Pinch of salt
Dash of hot sauce

Tortillas and Garnishes
18 small flour or corn tortillas
2 cups shredded green or savoy cabbage

1. To make the pickled onion, combine all the ingredients in a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and let cool.

2. To prepare the fish, combine the oil and lime juice in a large, shallow, glass baking dish. Add the fish and turn to coat. Set aside and let marinate for 15 minutes.

3. To prepare the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until will combined. Set aside.

4. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the fish from the marinade to the hot pan, skin-side down. Cook the fish for 4 minutes on the first side, flop, and drizzle with the marinade. Cook on the second side for 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Let rest for a few minutes, then flake with a fork.

5. To warm tortillas, stack them between damp paper towels and microwave about 60 seconds.

6. Serve the warm tortillas, fish, pickled onions, sour cream sauce, cabbage, and salsa in separate bowls and allow diners to assemble their own tacos.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Carrot Spoon Bread

I am very excited to share today's recipe with you for a couple of reasons. First, it is from the cookbook Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Ways to Enjoy Fresh Winter Vegetables! A whole cookbook dedicated to winter vegetable cooking! I got it from the library, but I may actually have to purchase this little gem. Honestly, even just from the few hours I have had to look through it - this will be a great asset to anyone who cooks seasonally. I have a fridge full of carrots and I was able to find a recipe that really showcases the carrot in a different way! The other reason is that this is the first time I've made a recipe that calls for whipped egg whites. Every time I read anything about stiff peaks in the context of cooking, I shy away. Not any more! I whipped those bad boys into stiff peaks by hand (wink wink). It took about 5 minutes of work, but I did it! I don't need your stinkin' kitchen aide mixer!

I cut the recipe in half and so there were about three servings . Mallory and I both ate one serving as a fourth meal kind of thing and she has already laid claim to the leftovers for lunch [I ate them for breakfast the next day - oops!]. This would be an excellent dish to bring to a brunch or to go with the Christmas ham. It's really light and airy, tastes almost like a quiche or a frittata but the cornmeal adds a nice flavor.

Overall, my first experience with this cookbook has been amazing. I made two substitution. One was for the tarragon. I didn't have any in my pantry and basil was a good substitute. The other was for the shallots.After reading red onions were a good substitution for shallots, I have gladly switched to the more affordable option. However, this time all I had were white onions. I don't get picky about such thing. I did read somewhere that you can sub a little garlic and white onions for shallots as well. So don't ever feel you have to buy overpriced shallots. Sometimes, I splurge if I really want a recipe to shine, but for the most part I really don't care. I put this recipe together in about 45 minutes - even with the egg white whipping. The glow of mastering a technique and the taste of the final product... so worth it!

Have you made stiff peaks yet?

Carrot Spoon Bread
(Serves 6-8)

2 cups milk
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup lightly packed grated sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1 pinch dried tarragon
4 eggs, separated

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 2-quart souffle dish or 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

2. Combine the milk, carrots, shallot, cornmeal, butter, salt, and pepper to taste in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, until the mixtures is thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the cheese and tarragon. Let cool until just warm to the touch, about 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the egg yolks until well blended.

4. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Stir one-third of the whites into the whites into the cornmeal mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a rubber spatula. Pour into prepared dish.

5. Place the dish in the oven and lower temperature to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned and the center is barely set. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Freezers Make Summer Happen

So I spent a lot of time last summer talking about putting some things in the freezer for the cold winter months that seemed so far away. Well after having a dreadfully icy week I decided I wanted summer in some form or fashion - so I guess in my mouth will do!  We are halfway through January and I haven't a put a dent in my freezer stock pile. That changes now! Right now I am thawing some corn and bacon chowder and planing on eating some veggie stuffed peppers one night this week. I've also found a soup recipe that uses summer squash and corn - so I might have to thaw out my extras and make that soup in the next few weeks.

Has this week left you yearning for summer? What are you making with your frozen yellow squash?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beer-Braised Cabbage

I have been told that cabbage is just cabbage and that it's nothing to get excited about. True! I was one of those people last winter when I thought I would scream if I had to eat anymore cabbage. However, this year I have embraced cabbage and it is giving my nothing but love in return. I found this recipe in Cooking for Two: 2010 and it has made me rethink cooked cabbage. Cabbage is not just for slaw.
Braising is making a flavorful liquid and then cooking something in that liquid. Everything that goes into this liquid is amazing - butter, onions, beer, mustard, and apple cider vinegar. The only complaint I have is that it seemed like a lot more than just two servings. I used six cups of thinly sliced cabbage, but next time I'll only use three or four. Honestly, I hope to get a food scale soon! So maybe all of this can be avoided in the future.

I served this alongside roast chicken and root vegetables (recipe coming soon) and it was the perfect winter night meal.

Have you had a revelation about a winter vegetable yet? (Radishes maybe?)

Beer-Braised Cabbage
(Serves two)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion
1/2 cup beer (mild American lager)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 small head green cabbage (12 ounces), cored and sliced thin (about 6 cups)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beer, mustard, and thyme, bring to a simmer, and cooking until thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the cabbage and vinegar, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is wilted and tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


.... to let me know you are reading this blog!

I have about three or four faithful comm enters. They are great and I try to faithfully post on their blogs as well. So I am always a little surprised in conversations when people (who aren't making their presence known) bring up something about my blog. I am so happy that I actually have readers, but I want to know WHO you are.

So, leave a comment. For real! Tell me who you are, where you are from, and if you are a fellow home cook. Tell me about your favorite seasonal foods, which recipe on the blog has been your favorite (or even least favorite), or even request that I write about a food or topic in the future.

And if you so feel the need... formally follow my blog by signing up on the right.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Root Pastries

Phew! The party is over, the Christmas decorations are coming down, and now I promise to get back to posting delicious, seasonal recipes for two. First, I must share with you the tastiest appetizer I have ever made. It's completely seasonal which makes me very happy! It came from Epicurious, which has never let me down (except for Indian Spiced Mustard Green Pizza... no beuno!). It's from a Bon Appetit Oscar Night Menu - circa 1995. They named the recipe "The Envelope Please", but I won't be calling them that at all. Winter Root Pastry is what I have dubbed them.

This is one of those recipes that is easy to make, but takes a long time. The plan was to roast the vegetables three days before the party, assemble the pastries the day before the party, and bake them as guests arrive. Well, I had a hectic week and the only thing I did before the party was roast the vegetables. Thank God! Because I spent about 2 and half hours assembling and baking these bad boys. I did double the recipe, which meant I had twice as many "envelopes" to make. I started before guests arrived and finished about halfway through the party. It took me longer because I had to stop to make the punch, greet some friends (aka James!), and then I talked to people the whole time while making them. I didn't mind it, but next time I will definitely make ahead of time. Perhaps even freeze them! We'll see.

Notes: I used molasses instead of maple syrup because it's cheaper. I wasn't sure if the vegetables were supposed to be roasted or not, but at 350F it was taking a long time for them to cook. I bumped it up to 400 halfway through to speed up the process. I did not have a pastry brush, and just spooned it onto the phyllo and spread it around.

Do you make recipes in advance? Or just stuff it all into one big cooking marathon?

Winter Root Pastries
(Makes 12)
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled turnips (about 1 pound)
4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried

2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
12 sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss turnips with 2 tablespoons oil on large baking sheet to coat well. Bake 10 minutes. Add squash, sweet potatoes, garlic and thyme to turnips and toss to coat with oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Bake until vegetables are tender, turning occasionally with large spatula, about 25 minutes. Transfer vegetables to medium bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions. Cover pan and cook until onions are golden brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add onions to vegetables. Mix in parsley, maple syrup and ginger. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

3. Stir 1/2 cup oil and butter in small bowl to blend. Lightly brush 2 heavy large baking sheets with oil mixture. Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface with 1 short end at bottom (keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel). Lightly brush phyllo sheet with oil mixture; place generous 1/3 cup filling 1 inch from bottom in middle of sheet. Fold right long side over filling, then fold left long side over, forming rectangle about 4 inches wide by 18 inches long. Brush lightly with oil mixture. Using spatula as aid, lift section with filling and fold over snugly so that filling section lies atop next 4 inches of pastry strip. Brush lightly with oil mixture. Continue to fold filling section over until end of phyllo strip is reached, forming 4- to 5-inch square envelope. Brush lightly with oil mixture. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets and filling, forming 12 envelopes. Arrange 6 envelopes on each prepared baking sheet. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and chill.)

4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake envelopes uncovered until golden crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer to platter.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fruited Champagne Punch

In my family, we all own a copy of a Mississippi tradition - Bell's Best. It's a cookbook from the 70s where the phone company collected recipes from customers. The copy I have belonged to my grandmother, then my mother, and now I have it. It's got recipes my granny tucked away into it, a few from my mom, and even a few from me. It's got every stereotypical Southern retro recipe you could want (Bachelor's Company Casserole). I normally look through it for desserts, but I actually used it this time for the punch recipe.

No... this isn't a seasonal recipe (well other than the fact that technically citrus and pineapple are in season right now). No, it's not really fresh or even organic. BUT - I wanted something festive to put in my second-hand punch bowl and serve to guests. And I would just like to say, that every last drop of that punch was devoured by my guests. That's a sign that you have a good recipe! So this will probably be my go to punch recipe for years to come.

Do you have a punch recipe you like to mix up for parties? (Besides PGA hunch punch!)

Fruited Champagne Punch
(Makes 8 1/2 quarts)

1 (46oz) can unsweetened pineapple juice
2 (6oz) or 1 cans frozen pineapple-orange concentrate, thawed
2 (12 oz) cans frozen lemonade concentrate
2 qt. water
3 bottles of champagne, chilled
Slices or oranges, lemons, and limes (thin)

Stir pineapple juice into concentrates. Add 2 quarts water; mix well. Chill. To serve, slowly pour in champagne. Garnish with thin slices of oranges, lemons, and limes. Makes 28 cups.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spiced Sweet-Potato Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

Do you ever get the desire to not share a recipe? People seem to love your creation so much that suddenly you want to be the "cake crack" dealer on the street. "Hey man... I've got sweet potato cake. Eight dollars an ounce, playah!" It's a secret power trip of bakers world wide, I'm sure. On the flip side, we could end up like Phoebe and realize your mom's secret recipe was just from the back of a bag of chocolate chips.
Fear not, friends! I am in deed sharing my newest success with you. I found this recipe online. It's hardly a secret. I made two cakes to give out as gifts and both of them got stellar reviews, but the Sweet Potato Cake seemed to be the overall champion. So I decided to make it again for Three Kings Day (maybe I'll grow a set and try a king's cake next year). What's so awesome about this cake? It looks beautiful with little work because you bake it in a bundt pan.

God bless the bundt! When I was younger cakes in bundt pans never really hit it off with me, but adults went hog wild over the stuff. I think kids want chocolate and cup cakes, preferably together. They just can't appreciate a good bundt (TWSS? Maybe..). I think for a party it's great. I just have to mix all the ingredients, dump it in the pan, bake, let it cool, dump it out, and pour a glaze over the top. No fussing over trying to make your cake layers even, mixing up a butter cream that you eat more of than put on the cake, or trying to decide if that top layer is going to slide right off the cake... nope. Just easy stress free bliss.

And it slices so nicely!

I don't have many notes to write about the cake its self, but the glaze is really kind of like a caramel cake icing. Or at least it turns out that way if you cook it too long. The first time I made it - I did actually have to spread it around the cake. The first time I made it I cooked the frosting on the stove. After reading the recipe for the second go round, I realized you our the hot brown sugar mixture over the sugar. Then you whisk them together until smooth and let it cool until it gets into a nice thick consistency. Alas, I poured the glaze on a little too early this time. So a lot of it pooled at the bottom, but I do love swiping my finger in the frosting when no one is looking.

How do you like your bundts? ;)

Spiced Sweet Potato-Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
(Makes 1 Bundt)
4 8-ounce red-skinned sweet potatoes(yams)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For cake:
1. Pierce sweet potatoes with fork. Microwave on high until very tender, about 8 minutes per side. Cool, peel and mash sweet potatoes. [Or... bake in the oven at 400F until very tender - about an hour.]

2. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray, then generously butter pan. Sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Measure enough mashed sweet potatoes to equal 2 cups. Transfer to large bowl. Add sugar and oil to sweet potatoes; using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Beat in vanilla. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Using small knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Turn out onto rack; cool completely.

For icing:
1. Sift powdered sugar into medium bowl. Stir brown sugar, whipping cream and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Boil 3 minutes, occasionally stirring and swirling pan. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour brown sugar mixture over powdered sugar. Whisk icing until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Cool icing until lukewarm and icing falls in heavy ribbon from spoon, whisking often, about 15 minutes. Spoon icing thickly over top of cake, allowing icing to drip down sides of cake. Let stand until icing is firm, at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.)