Garden Fresh Fig Coffee Cake

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I never dreamed that I would ever be able to grow fresh figs until this move to southeast Pennsylvania. The climate here is warmer and the growing season longer. With a little winter protection my fig trees have thrived. As grocery produce goes they are a pricey commodity, so it’s a great example of why tending a small backyard garden is worth it. Here we are on the edge of November and these fresh figs are ripening fast and furious.

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Once picked figs don’t last long. They are quite perishable. We love them sliced and caramelized in butter with goat cheese and balsamic glaze, but we can only eat so many that way. Simmering a large pot of figs with honey and orange yielded two nice jars of jam. Still so many figs, so I baked a fresh fig cake recipe that I present today.

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This is a dense fruit cake filled with toasted pecans, chopped dates, dried cranberries and the fresh figs. It’s flavored with cardamom, citrus zest and a little orange liqueur. It is a moist cake that is delicious for breakfast topped with plain Greek yogurt or can be served as an elegant after dinner dessert topped with whipped cream.

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Garden Fresh Fig Cake

1 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1/2 cup pitted dates, quartered

2 tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups canola

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

3 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

 

12 ripe figs, quartered

Heat oven to 350F. Spray a coffee cake pan with no-stick baking spray. In small bowl, toss cranberries, dates and orange liqueur or juice; reserve. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil and orange zest on high speed for 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well. With mixer on low speed gradually add flour mixture blending just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in pecans and reserved dried fruit mixture. Spread half the batter evenly over bottom of pan. Evenly space half the figs on the batter. Spread remaining batter over figs. Top with remaining figs. Bake for 70 to 80 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate and then invert again on to a cooling rack. I prefer the fig side up.

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I prefer to flip this over and serve it fig side up

 

Spirited Butternut Pecan Cookies

IMG_8091Today’s recipe is brought to you by NOT the great pumpkin, but the butternut squash. It’s not that I am not tempted to share some great pumpkin idea, but if your inbox is anything like mine you have been completely inundated with pumpkin recipes. Besides that I did not plant sugar pumpkins this year. I like to rotate my crops and the butternut squash did not disappoint.

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There is nothing like a fresh picked butternut squash. The biggest difference from store bought? The tender skin! There is no battle slicing through it nor the fear of chopping off a finger. Most of the dozen or so I got from just 1 seed grew quite large, but my final pick was a wee 5-inches.

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Chopped, cooked and smashed this little beauty yielded just 1/2 cup of butternut squash puree. It was more than enough for this cookie recipe that I wanted to test out.

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Yes! It is a spirited cookie. I guess you could say a certain Sailor inspired this one. He has been around a lot lately. The recipe also calls for a few other complimentary flavors like vanilla bean paste, pumpkin pie spice, toasty pecans and demerera sugar. The cookie bakes up soft, but not cake-like, on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside from the sprinkle of sugar.

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Here is a tip. If you are roasting or boiling up a butternut squash for dinner set aside 1/4 cupful for these cookies before adding any seasoning. You will be glad you did.

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Spirited Butternut Pecan Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen cookies
  • Print

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

¼ cup mashed butternut squash

1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s whiskey

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons demerera or turbinado sugar

36 pecan halves

Heat oven to350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In medium bowl, whisk flour, spice, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar for 5 minutes or until light and well mixed. Add egg yolk; blend well. Add squash, whiskey and vanilla bean paste; blend well. Add flour mixture; stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until well blended. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon drop cookie batter onto prepared baking sheet. Press 1 pecan into center of each cookie. Sprinkle each with a pinch of demera sugar. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown around edges.

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Have a great week from my real favorite pumpkin

Following In His Light Creates A Winning Recipe

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Recipe contests aren’t what they used to be. In the olden days (going back 30 years) I could create a recipe, type it up and snail mail it to the sponsor. On occasion, I did need to include a UPC symbol as proof of purchase, but that was about it. All of my creative energy actually went into developing a tasty recipe and finishing it off with a clever name. There were big cash prizes, fabulous vacations and even a Harley Davidson to be won back in those times.

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Over the years entering recipe contests has gotten more complicated, time consuming and competitive. Social media and the economy have played a huge part in how a sponsor may present a contest. The expectations are much higher. The work much greater. If I wanted to be in it to win it then I would need to stop living in the past and make some big changes.

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Learning food styling and food photography is paramount if one wants to enter recipe contests these days. Just about every contest now requires a photo. Eat with your eyes first has a whole new meaning, but what it takes to capture a truly stunning, mouth-watering, I want to eat my computer food photo is so much more than a click on the iPhone. Professional food stylists and photographers earn every penny and have my utmost admiration.

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Truth be told food photography is not only difficult, but also expensive. Cameras, lenses, tripods, lighting, props….the list is endless. I resisted investing in it and sadly myself for a long time. It was not only the money that held me back, but more a total lack of confidence that I could actually learn to take a good picture. Like everything else these days it’s technical and I am not wired that way. I knew it would be a difficult challenge.

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Quite frankly it scared me, but a great teacher changed all that. A gentle motivator and filled with kind encouragement Christina leads and facilitates a food photography group on Facebook. I lurked in her group for months reading and learning from the members. They range from amateurs to professionals and are a generous group when it comes to sharing food photography tips and tricks. Christina also has a blog covering just about every food photography subject one can imagine and in language one like me can understand. The more I lurked the more I thought it might be possible for me to upgrade from my iPhone and get on the fine food photography band wagon.

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I still have a long way to go when it comes to food photography, but I have been so over the moon since Eggland’s Best chose me as their grand prize winner in their “foodtography” recipe contest. As always hard work pays off. I’m just really proud of myself for stepping outside the comfort zone to learn something I never thought I could. Following in his light has its rewards.

Thank you Eggland’s Best for this challenge. Thank you Christina for being the most encouraging teacher. Thank you to all my family and friends and even strangers who voted for my photo and helped get me into the winner’s circle. Thank you always to my children who inspire me beyond words. These days it does seem to take a village to win a recipe contest.

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Thank you Eggland’s Best

I love this cake for its ease of preparation and deliciously healthy ingredient list. Decorate it with your favorite fresh fruit and own artistic flair. Send me a photo please!

Fruit & Yogurt Smoothie Bowl Cake

1¼-cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup almond flour

1-tablespoon chia seeds plus additional for garnish

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 Eggland’s Best Eggs

1-cup sugar

1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt (I use 2% fat), divided

½ cup canola oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 to 1 ½ -tablespoons honey

fresh sliced fruit and chopped toasted chopped almonds for garnish

Heat oven 350F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with no-stick baking spray. In large bowl, whisk flour, almond flour, chia seeds, baking powder and salt until mixed. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar,1-cup yogurt, oil, lemon zest and almond extract until well blended. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap pan on counter a few times to remove any air bubbles and evenly distribute batter. Bake cake in center of oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out cake and cool completely. Mix remaining ½ cup of yogurt with ½-tablespoon of honey; spread over center of cake leaving about a 1-inch border. Decorate top with sliced fresh fruit, toasted almonds and chia seeds. Drizzle with remaining honey.

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