Do Organics Taste Better?

There’s been a lot of debate and discussion over the value of organic foods since they first gained popularity years back. Many experts claim there is no additional health value from organics, though I seriously doubt the demand will decline anytime soon.

But what about taste?  I have a friend who swears the organic apples he buys from his local farmers market are better than the ones at the grocery store.  I have to admit I’ve never given it much thought; usually only buying organics if it’s on sale or if it looks really really good (or the alternative looks really really bad).

Have any of you noticed any difference?  With everything, particular fruits/veggies?

Potato Skins

I was browsing the foodie blogosphere for some outside inspiration when I came across this delicious looking recipe from Kristin over at Picky Cook. I’m quite fond of broccoli so this was right up my alley.

I upped the veggies (of course. hey, broccoli was on sale) a bit and gave up a bit more of a broil for more of a burn; what I expect from a good bar potato skin. Other than not giving the potatoes enough of an initial bake (making it harder to hollow out and mash), they turned out great! If you’re looking for more potato skin ideas, check out Heather’s recipe with rutabaga.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

It’s apple season! Check out this new collection of apple dessert recipes from Martha Stewart.

Yeah, I’ve got dessert on the brain.. so I know I could use a refresher on this – How to Find Time to Cook Healthy Meals.

Last, check out The 11 Most Important Rules For Healthy Eating for some great ideas.

Ever read The Omnivore’s Dilemma? It’s a pretty cool book. Here are 7 Rules for Eating from the author, Michael Pollan.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Pumpkin Pie Without the Pie Dough

I told Morgan on Saturday night that it was pumpkin time, and there was nothing he could do about it.

We went to dinner and a play, and afterward we went by Harris Teeter. I’ve had a beef with Harris Teeter for a long time; we used to live next to one when we were in the DC area. For three years I would walk in to the store around this time of year with pumpkin on my mind… just a regular 15 oz can of Libby’s pumpkin. You would think that at the end of September and throughout October and November that pumpkin would be a grocery store staple… but you would be wrong.

crustprebaking

Last year when this had happened for the third time in a row, I finally did something I never do and wrote a fussy letter to customer service. They apologized and said they had it now, but when I went back in that day there was none to be found and no one knew why. I can’t believe I was so stupid as to go back to a Harris Teeter this year, even if it was in a completely different city. Sure enough they had no Libby’s canned pumpkin. A helpful employee did take me to some organic canned pumpkin which, while $2-3 more expensive, at least they had something.

pumpkin pie bar

So I pulled out a recipe I made last year from Joy the Baker – Butterscotch Pumpkin Pie Bars.  I thought I would love these bars when I made them last year, but I realized that I don’t much care for butterscotch, and I just wasn’t feeling the pumpkin and butterscotch combination especially.

I found the original recipe that Joy modeled hers off of – Pumpkin Pie Bars from Kraft Foods. I used non-fat cream cheese (I really don’t think you can taste the difference because there are so many other delicious things going on) and took out the pecan topping because I’m a pumpkin purist. I also took out a little bit of the granulated sugar – I love the granola bottom but I don’t think it needs to be quite so sweet. The result was a crunchy granola bottom, with pumpkin pie-like filling and topped with more granola.  Pumpkin pie without dealing with pie dough.  Please make this, and please send me some. :)

pumpkinpiebars

Granola Pumpkin Pie Bars
adapted from Kraft Foods

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 package (8 oz.) non-fat cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and allspice.
dash of cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil (leaving some extra hanging out that can act as handles) and grease the lining.

Combine flour, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture and set aside; press the remaining into the bottom of the lined pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes (my oven runs a little hot I think, so I did it for 12).

Beat softened cream cheese, remaining granulated sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spices in a small bowl with an electric mixer (or in a stand mixer) on medium speed until well blended. Pour over crust and sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully lift from the pan using foil handles and cool completely. Cut into approximately 24 bars to serve.

A Few Hiccups

Hey everyone. We’re doing some behind-the-scenes work on DinnerCakes and this might cause a few hiccups for you. Bear with us and we’ll have everything right as rain soon!

Doing Our Part – Blueberry Vinaigrette

This Saturday I participated in a park cleanup project for National Public Lands Day.  The Access Fund and Mid Atlantic Climbers helped organize a series of necessary work at Carderock Park in Maryland.  The group was comprised mostly of climbers which made it a great event to meet some new fellow adventurers for hitting the rocks.  Together we re-mulched all the trails, restored the shoreline walls, and covered misleading false trails.  It was great, but exhausting work.  Though I would like to say that Boca burgers suck and are a crime against vegetarians everywhere!

Mulching At Adopt A Crag Heavy Lifting At Adopt A Crag

Frozen blueberries were on sale this week so I couldn’t resist (they go great in smoothies, by the way).  The weather’s been really great so far so for me light dinners are still in and I decided to try something different for a vinaigrette using these newly acquired berries.  I have to admit, the result didn’t blow me away but it was a nice change.  If you’ve got any suggestions or ideas, throw em my way.

Blueberries Blueberry Vinaigrette

Blueberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or if frozen, thawed)
1 shallot; chopped
1 garlic clove; chopped
1/4 white wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt

Combine all your ingredients in your blender. Enjoy.

9 Ways to Cook Lazily and Still Get Rave Reviews

DinnerCakes is about cooking and baking for busy people… not really lazy people :-) But I think these tips may still be useful for many of you!

There's Something To Be Said For Presentation

I’m really tempted, but anyone else find the color disturbing?

Susan V’s Roasted Beet-Tofu Burger

I Love Friday

Well, I have one of my first big tests of my nursing program today starting at 8:00AM! So please send good thoughts my way, and instead of a kitchen tip, here are some little treasures to explore today and this weekend!

Foodzie.com – An online marketplace where you can discover and buy food directly from small passionate food producers and growers.

Celebrating the first day of fall that occurred this week, Fall Harvest Desserts from Martha – I hope to enjoy at least one of these this weekend in my downtime!

In health news – the Federal ban on flavored cigarettes took effect this week.

It doesn’t appear that eating certain foods will keep swine flu away.

And if you’re a Charlottesville resident, don’t forget that tomorrow (Saturday) is the 13th Annual Vegetarian Festival, featuring lots of vegetarian and vegan food, a silent auction, pet adoptions and more.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Happy Weekend!

The 5-Minute Mug Cake? Really?

A friend of mine recently returned to school and as such has a much more busy schedule. We were talking recently and she mentioned something called the five-minute mug cake. Apparently, you make this concoction by combining all its ingredients into a standard coffee mug and microwaving for a few minutes. This sounds like a recipe for disaster to me; though I must admit to turning my nose up to using the microwave for any real cooking (Hello my name is Edwin and I am a food snob).

What’s your reaction? Have any of you tried this? I shall attempt this and report back!