Sunday, April 18, 2010

SMS: Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Orange-Rum Glaze

To be perfectly honest, I feel a little bad about being this week's host since I haven't been a participant is sooooo long. So, thank you for letting me host anyway. This week's recipe is Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze (recipe after my ramblings below). I chose this recipe because it doesn't have any dairy in it!! Who-hooo! I can eat it. The recipe is so simple, so quick, and SO DELICIOUS. I strongly encourage all to try. May be more of a fall or winter bread, but if you like these flavors, who's to say you can't enjoy it year round. Check out how all the wonderful and talented SMS bakers did this week here.

So, in order to explain (notice I didn't say excuse) my absence from baking and blogging (yes, not just a lazy blogger), here goes: I'M PREGNANT!!! It will be our first, and we are so darn excited. I am due October 6th. This is something I have wanted for a while now, waiting for everything to line up. So, world's greatest husband - check, good job - check, house - check, baby - soon! Horay!!!! I was not expecting the fatigue that comes with the first trimester, oh wow. I used to be able to work my demanding lawyer job, then come home and bake and blog. Now for the last few months, it was barely get myself to work, barely make it through the day (a shortened one at that), barely make it home, then fall on the couch and not get up except for the bathroom or bed. Rinse and repeat. I did NOTHING other than that for a few months, not lying. So, no baking, no blogging. Thankfully, I have my energy back. Work picked up in a major way - I have worked long full days every day since Easter Sunday, but that should get back to a more manageable pace after tomorrow, and then I can't wait to see what all my long lost baking friends have been up to and get myself back in the kitchen!

For the Bread

Two 15-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 kosher salt
2/3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

For the Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup rum
2 cinnamon sticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed mash the sweet potatoes until smooth (this will make about 2 cups). Add the sugar and oil and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Add the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture in three batches, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do no overmix. Stir in the pecans.

3. Pour the batted into the prepared bundt pan. Spin the pan to level the bater. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire wrack to cool for 20 minutes before inverting onto the rack for glazing.

4. For the glaze. Combine the orange juice, rum, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and reduce by half. REmove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before glazing.

5. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze generously over the still-warm bread. Wait for 10 minutes, and glaze again.

Coming Soon... Sweet Potato Bread

So, since I have been REALLY MIA, just a quick note to say that I do intend on posting this week's SMS recipe, Sweet Potato Bread, later today (its 12:45 am). I have lots to fill you in on, but gotta catch some z's, then up early to bake and post before another 14+ hour day at the office (yes, on a Sunday).


Monday, January 18, 2010

SMS: Amazing Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

Man, what a recipe to come back to. This weeks SMS recipe was Lemon Walnut Pound Cake chosen by Raeann of Basically, Baby Boots. The recipe can be found on her blog. I was excited to make this cake given all the rave reviews it received from the other SMS bloggers. Man, this one is a keeper.

I didn't want to do the nuts thing, and after seeing Cassie's Lemon Poppyseed Cake, I knew I wanted to sub in poppyseeds. I knew I made the right decision when hubby started cheering at the thought of a lemon poppyseed cake. I also substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and lactose free margarine for the butter. And still, the cake turned out AMAZING. So moist and light and fluffy, which is a miracle since I noticed about 40 minutes into my alleged cooking time that my digital oven had turned itself off, leaving me to guess at how long it had actually been cooking and how long it had to go! My dinner guests and hubby and myself all agreed that the baking fairy must have laced it with crack, we just couldn't stop eating it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Where have you been?

OK, OK, it has been waaaaay to long. I know. Life has been filled to the brim, with both highs and lows. Since several of my awesome blogger friends have left comments wondering what's up, here's a brief recap on what's kept me away: From late October to mid-December we hosted hubby's (Mathias) mother and her boyfriend for two weeks, Mathias' pseudo Nicaraguan Mom for a week, Mathias' brother for two weeks, Mathias' father, grandmother and stepmom for Thanksgiving weekend, Mathias' best friend for a week, Mathias' friend and longtime volunteer for his non profit for two weeks, and my sister for 4 days. I calculated it, we had 10 days total with no guests in our house during that time.

In addition, Mathias' awesome non-profit, blueEnergy, had two big events which I was volunteering and baking for. A trivia night, where I made 10 doz cupcakes for the event and the grand prize was a gift certificate for 2 doz cupcakes for each winner on a team (5 pp team = 10 doz cupcakes). These were all cashed in! Then a Taste of Nicaragua fundraiser - where I did a lot of work soliciting donations, and then made the dessert bar which had Tres Leche cake, La Lechera balls, coconut rum cupcakes, banana caramel cupcakes, Mexican chocolate cupcakes and fresh mango mini cheesecakes.

Then we threw a housewarming holiday party, with a dessert bar of course. I also made all of the food myself, mini empanadas, mini pork buns, phyllo triangles with sauteed mushrooms, many dips, shrimp, lamb and vegie kabobs, cheese crustini with carmelized bacon, etc. For dessert I made mini pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, mini chocolate mint cupcakes, chai blondies, s'more bars and rice crispy treats with chocolate and peanut butter fudge. Not a one picture of the food, can you believe it? We also went to three other X-mas parties, and hosted another improptu holiday dinner party for 10.

Then, sadly, my mother fell very ill and was hospitalized. That left us driving home on Christmas day and then spending 11 days with her in the hospital. She has pneumonia, which is not better unfortunately, and had to have surgery (on New Year's Eve) to remove her gallbladder and appendix. She is out of the hospital, but still recovering from surgery and still fighting pneumonia. I am headed back home on Thursday to support my family. It has been rough. Since she was in the hospital in Pasadena, CA, we did get to go to the Rose Bowl game. Unfortunately, the Ducks didn't win.

So, on top of all of that, I am a corporate attorney and that keeps me plenty busy. And, to top it all off, right after we came home from LA, I threw my back out and can't move around too well. Unfortunately, standing and cooking/baking hurts a fair amount. So, that's why I have been MIA. It has just felt too overwhelming to try and catch-up in the blog world and get around to everyone's blog to say hi and I was a bad blogger so didn't really take pictures of my baking these past few months. But, it is a new year, and I am hoping for a fresh start, as soon as possible. Thanks everyone for your concern, especially Cassie of How to Eat a Cupcake, Elyse of Belle of the Bakery, Michelle of Flourchild, and Monica of Lick the Bowl Good. It is nice to feel missed.

And of course, my sincerest apologies to the SMS bakers for being MIA, and for Karen of Karen's Cookies Cakes and More for taking over my hosting duties. I am coming back and about to start making the Lemon pound cake right after I hit post!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SMS: Cranberry Pear Muffins with Ginger Crumble Topping

I am back! Yay, after spending most of the day cleaning my new house (boo) I finally got to bake in it! Yippee. I am so happy to be back with SMS, I baked with a big grin on my face the whole time. This week's recipe is Cranberry Pear Muffins with Ginger Crumble Topping chosen by Jennifer of Maple N'Cornbread. Old habits are hard to break, so even though I thought I could use this fresh start to do things a little ahead of time, no dice, and so the muffins are still warm, no tasters yet, and bad lighting. Oh well. They sure smell delicious. And, I ended up making 24, since I didn't read the recipe carefully and didn't realize that it called for a 1/2 batch of the crumble (also true to form) and so instead of waste the extra crumble, I just made another batch since I had left over of everything else as well.

My Mother-in-Law (who is AWESOME) and her boyfriend and her good friend are in town and have been here for almost two weeks. It's been great to have them (she and her BF are French) so we've been treated to some amazing French home cooking and house improvements (Maurice is a Jack of All Trades, a wonder really). I hope they like these American treats. They are very strict about having breakfast every morning with coffee sitting down at the table - so weird! I suspect these will fit the bill. I'll let you know - I made one batch dairy free with soy creamer and soy milk and dairy free margarine so I could try them, as I love cranberry muffins.

Check out the other SMS'rs too, their muffins look great!

Friday, November 6, 2009

OMG it's been tooo long

Wow, what do you say when you have been absent for sooooo long? I'm sorry, please keep reading my blog, I won't let this happen again ..... By way of background, otherwise known as excuse, here's my story - if anyone will either bother to read this anymore! September: we submit our 5th bid on a house in the East Bay (Northern Cali), and we are accepted!!!!! This, after months and months and months of spending the very little free time we had looking at tons and tons of houses with our great agent, Warren Lei of Caldwell Banker, and being outbid (thankfully) on a few houses. Our new home:

As you homeowners know, bid acceptance is the first step, then inspections, contingencies, mortgage, escrow, etc. Thankfully, everything went well and without a hitch. We closed just in time for me throw my good friend Ashley, who introduced me to my husband (i.e. forever in debt) a 30th birthday party at my empty house. The theme throughout this whole saga is that my work as a corporate attorney as been INSANE. So, I get home from work at 11PM the day before the party and stay up 3am baking a cheesecake (her request) and cupcakes and making her present (we all went in on a vacation package, I set up a registry, and then made cards for each component of the vacation). I must say, it is crazy to try and throw a party in an empty house, I mean, at the time the guests were scheduled to arrive I was at the harware store learning that the grill I bought had to be partially disassembled and then reassembled at the party in order for us to cook dinner!!!! Thank goodness for her boyfriend Mark, rockstar, as my hubby was in Nicaragua when we closed (meaning I spent three hours siging the paperwork for both of us with a power of attorney).

Immediately after the party, I get to work on making the house my own - with my good friend Auburn's guidance and help, we start the ambitious task of painting several rooms. Insanity. Two nights during the week I don't make it back to the house until 10PM and THEN start to paint, like a crazy person.

So, hubby returns from Nicaragua, and instead of finding our apartment all packed up, because work was CRAZY, I have done nothing (did I mention how I worked super late and then painted the house alone?). So, we have 4 days to move our apartment filled with 4 years worth of $%@@. It takes almost every waking moment of those four days - one of which I worked full time. Sleep deprivation, what is that? Huh, what? I'm confused.

We finally make it, get all moved in, and then... WE HAVE TO UNPACK. My dad and sister are scheduled to visit to help, so that gives good motivation to push. And then they come and help tremendously with so many things, buying a couch, putting up pictures, planting plants, etc. So, unpacking, hosting, shopping, and oh yeah, did I mention how I WORK ALL THE TIME? Well, for the month of October I did - spending more nights taking a few hours nap on the couch in my new home office (which I do love) then in my bed. So, what this means is - NO BAKING IN MY WONDERFUL NEW KITCHEN. Can you say torture? a weird twist of fate? Sucky is what I say.

Ok, so I am almost done with this big o'le long explanation. The other thing, I joined the committee for my hubby's non-profit, blueEnergy's, fundraiser. So, in my spare time (the very little that I have between my crazy lawyer hours, new house, new commute, I devote to obtaining/soliciting and planning for the silent auction. It ended up being a successful mission thus far, event still to come, but we have put together quite an action. So, that is my story. Not really have anything to do with baking. Apart from one super late night making 10 dozen cupcakes for my husband's work event, not much baking at all. But, I feel the tide is turning. I will be joining back in SMS this weekend - and deeply apologize to all SMS members for my absence, and thank Karen soooooo muuuuchh. So, if you are still reading after all this, and can find it in your heart to keep on reading, I thank you so very much. I will be making the blog rounds this weekend and can't wait to see what you all have been up to.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

SMS: Fresh Peach Muffins

Short and sweet post, running out the door for a weekend retreat in the mountains, no cell or blackberry reception, so nice. Anyhow, I made these muffins back when we made the strawberry rubarb jam, which I made again last night to take on our trip! This week's SMS recipe is Fresh Peach Muffins chosen by JoVonn of the Givens Chronicles. She's a Georgia Peach, so she choose this recipe. I made it dairy free with soy creamer and it worked great. Peach flavor is mild, but the mufins were overall very good. Check out the other SMS baker's here.