Almond Poppy Seed Baked Oatmeal

Photo by Abigail Bradshaw

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

My family had a full on addiction to almond poppy seed muffins from Costco when I was growing up – we went through at least a dozen a week. To be fair, there were six of us! Now that we’ve grown up and started to appreciate more wholesome ingredients, this is a healthy way that I still get that flavorful fix.

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350/F and lightly oil four medium-sized ramekins.

2. Mix all of the ingredients together and then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

3. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then serve with a pat of butter on top or with warm milk and fresh fruit.

4. Check your teeth for poppy seeds afterwards, and enjoy!

baked oatmeal recipe by Abigail Bradshaw

About Abigail Bradshaw

Creating good food is one of Abigail's favorite ways to share her love for creative composition with the people around her — mixing flavors, colors, and textures to create a delicious and quickly-eaten whole. When she's not in the kitchen, she's a multi-disciplinary creative living in the lovely Boise, Idaho, and running her independent creative business The Notion Creative Labs.

Crisp Matcha Shortbreads

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients

  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • the contents of 4 bags of Japanese green tea, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 C butter, chilled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

When spring rolls around, I find myself craving less and less of the heavier, sweeter desserts of winter and the holidays. These matcha shortbreads are light and crispy yet full of buttery flavor; they definitely satisfy my sweet tooth without being cloyingly sweet or heavy.

A shot of ground green tea leaves provides a nice herbal bitterness to these cookies and gives them a lovely fresh color. They’re great as a snack and go equally well with tea or coffee.

Directions

matcha shortbread / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang

1. In a food processor, combine the flour, tea leaves, both sugars and salt and pulse until all ingredients are combined and the tea leaves are finely ground.

2. Distribute the chilled butter in the bowl of the food processor evenly and pulse until the dough looks sandy. While the food processor is running, add the vanilla extract and continue processing until the dough just comes together in a ball. If needed, add water 1 teaspoon at a time if the dough is dry and not coming together.

3. Remove the dough from the food processor and pat it into a 8″ round, about 3/4″ thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or keep in the freezer if you plan to bake the cookies at a future date.

4. After the dough has had sufficient time to chill (this allows for the cut dough to retain its shape during baking), remove the dough from

the fridge and roll it out until it is about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. If you find the dough is sticking to the rolling pin, sprinkle powdered sugar (as opposed to flour) on the dough to prevent the finished product from becoming tough and floury tasting.

5. Preheat the oven to 375F.

6. Using the cookie cutter of your choice (I just used 2″ rounds), cut out the dough and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. If your kitchen is warm and you find the dough starting to soften, chill the cut cookies in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.

7. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. When the cookies start to get lightly browned on the bottom, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing them to a rack to finish cooling.

8. Enjoy!

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.

Cornmeal Cake, Roasted Strawberries + Buttermilk Ice Cream

Photo by Abigail Bradshaw

I simply cannot get enough strawberries into my belly around this time of year. I’ll take them any way I can get them, which sometimes means coming up with creative uses for this classic spring berry. Given that I recently discovered cornmeal’s double-life as a delicious cake ingredient, I put together a “strawberry-shortcake-done-soooo-right” recipe … and ate myself into a minor coma “testing” the final product. The buttermilk ice cream has a tangy perfection that pairs well with the sweet strawberries and the hearty cornmeal cake. I suggest making the three components of this recipe over the course of a couple of days for a delectable springtime dessert.

Cornmeal Cake

(adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • the zest of one orange
  • 3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and generously butter a 9 inch cake round cake pan with sides that are at least 2 inches high — the cake will rise towards the middle, so allow for that in the baking environment.

2. Sift together the flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and orange peel together until smooth.

4. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is well-incorporated and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs until the mixture is smooth.

5. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, and again – beat until smooth.

6. Put away that electric beater and fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula until just mixed.

7. Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan. Let it cool completely, and cover it until you’re ready to serve it with the ice cream and strawberries!

Hint: you can substitute a package of Bob’s Red Mill Cornbread Mix for the dry ingredients, but cut down the sugar to only one 1/2 cup if you do so, and increase the buttermilk to 3/4 cup.

roasted strawberries

Roasted Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 2 16 oz packages of frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Prepare a pan with as much protection as you can against the stickiness that will ensue from the roasted berries! I used a silicone mat on the bottom of my pan as well as tinfoil over the top.

2. Allow the strawberries to warm up just a bit — just enough to where they won’t harden the butter again too quickly. Pour the strawberries into a medium bowl.

3. Mix together the butter, maple syrup, and salt if applicable. Pour the butter/maple syrup mixture onto the strawberries and mix well, then transfer to your prepared pan and flatten the berries into one layer to allow for the best roasting.

4. Every 15 minutes, stir the berries around — continue this for about 45 minutes to an hour. The end result will be the consistency of chunky strawberry jam. These berries are best hot right out of the oven, so I’d suggest waiting until the last minute to serve these up!

Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste, available at specialty food stores)

Directions
1. Prepare an ice bath in your kitchen sink (or most convenient ice-bath area) and a slurry with the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk.

2. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, remaining buttermilk, and whipping cream over medium heat.

3. Allow the mixture to heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 30 seconds or so, and then remove from heat.

4. Take about 1/2 cup of the hot buttermilk mixture and combine it with the egg yolks — stir well to prevent cooking the eggs and creating chunks.

5. Once combined, transfer the egg yolk mixture, the cornstarch slurry, and the vanilla to the buttermilk mixture and bring the whole concoction back over medium heat.

6. Stir as the ice cream base begins to thicken up — another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a 1-gallon freezer bag, and submerge in the ice bath for 30 minutes.

7. After completely cool, pour the base into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making ice cream.

8. Freeze the completed ice cream for at least 1 hour before serving, and 4 or more hours for the best consistency! I usually make the ice cream a few days before I plan to serve this dessert, the cake the day before, and the roasted strawberries on the day of the meal.

Enjoy!

About Abigail Bradshaw

Creating good food is one of Abigail's favorite ways to share her love for creative composition with the people around her — mixing flavors, colors, and textures to create a delicious and quickly-eaten whole. When she's not in the kitchen, she's a multi-disciplinary creative living in the lovely Boise, Idaho, and running her independent creative business The Notion Creative Labs.

Spring Zucchini Basil Soup

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients

  • 3 medium (~300g) zucchini or your favorite type of Summer squash
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C of basil leaves, very loosely packed
  • 1 Cup of chicken, vegetable broth, or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than with a bright, herbaceous soup? Spring heralds the return of a multitude of fresh vegetables that are perfect for use in all sorts of dishes. This soup is a great way to beat any chilly weather that might be lingering and won’t leave you feeling heavy.

The short list of ingredients and ease of preparation belie this soup’s deliciousness. Sauteed zucchini and fresh herbs are pureed together, creating a luscious, creamy soup without the use of heavy cream or milk. Consider this a base recipe that you can build upon or customize to your tastes. Dislike basil? Substitute with the fresh herb of your choice; add beans or cubed potatoes for a more substantial meal. Craving a little more depth of flavor? Roast the zucchini instead, and caramelize the shallots first before pureeing. Add less water, and use it as a sauce for pasta or a dip for chips. No matter how you choose to prepare this soup, you’ll have yourself a quick and delicious meal that will pair well with just about any spring meal.

Spring zucchini soup recipe by Beverly Wang


Directions:

  • 1. Wash the basil leaves and let dry. You can choose to use a salad spinner to speed up the process, but gently patting the leaves with some towels will suffice.
  • 2. Wash the zucchini and slice into 1/2″ rounds. Dice the shallots and the garlic. The beauty of this recipe is that the cuts don’t have to be completely uniform or beautiful as all the ingredients will pureed together later. Just take care to make the pieces roughly the same size to ensure even cooking.
  • 3. Heat up a saute pan over medium-high heat. When the pan has been preheated sufficiently, add a swirl of olive oil (I used around 1 Tablespoon). When the oil starts to shimmer, add the chopped shallots and garlic and stir-fry, stirring constantly so that the garlic and shallots don’t burn.
  • 4. After 1 minute, add the zucchini and a pinch of salt and toss it together with the garlic and shallots. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan looks a little dry, you can add a little water or chicken

  • broth, or even a splash of white wine to lubricate and deglaze the pan. This also helps to lift the browned bits of zucchini, garlic and shallots from the bottom of the pan (referred to as the “fond”), and adds to the overall yumminess of the dish.
  • 5. When the zucchini are fork-tender, remove the pan from the heat and add the contents to a blender, along with 1 C of liquid of your choice (chicken, vegetable broth or water) and the basil leaves. Take care to place the lid on the blender and hold it down with a towel when you blend unless you want zucchini soup all over your kitchen (trust me, I’ve been there). If you have an immersion blender, you can blend the contents along with the liquid and basil in your stock pot.
  • 6. When the soup is velvety smooth, transfer it to a stock pot and gently reheat it to your desired temperature. This is a good time to taste for salt; add it now if you so choose.
  • 7. Ladle into soup bowls, and finish it with a few cracks of good black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice. Enjoy!

Note: This soup also tastes delicious chilled. Top with a dollop of creme fraiche or greek yogurt and I imagine it would make a lovely summer dish.

Spring zucchini soup recipe by Beverly Wang

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.