Apple Sauce Cake

I told myself that I wouldn't do this.  You know... the whole baking thing.  We've just had Hallowe'en.  We need more sweets like we need a hole in the head, right.?  But then I had this apple sauce left over from the muffins that I made last week... remember?  Nobody seemed to be eating the stuff and I guess that I could have frozen it... whatever.  I made cake.
Speaking of Hallowe'en... the kids had fun this year.  I'm really glad that they did.  I don't like Hallowe'en.   'Why' you ask?  'It's such fun to dress up and the kids enjoy it so much...' you might add.  It's not for religious reasons or anything.  It doesn't scare me or upset me.  I just think that any occasion that demands that I walk outside at night at the end of October (HELLo - it was FREEZING in T.O.) should bring a little bit better pay-off.  Let's see I could be at home but I have to be out toting my kids from house to house so that they can collect candy and show off their awesome costumes (seriously awesome Peeps) and what I get for it is... freezing hands, sore shoulders (from shrugging in the cold) and  a mini snickers bar.  Not good enough!!!  Just sayin'  If I lived in, oh I don't know, California, the West Indies, South of France... then it might be just fine.

So, here is the cake that I told myself I wouldn't make this week.  I wouldn't be surprised if I were you to see more crap show up before the week is out - I could surprise myself though.  My neighbours are going to start really liking living next door to me.  We can't eat the stuff.  Thank goodness I have friends like KT out there to help me out too.
The cake is lush and cream cheese icing makes an appearance again too.  I thought that it would be fun to jazz it up this time with a little cinnamon.  I also felt a little lame for using the same icing again so I guilted myself into changing it up just a little bit (that's really dumb, I know).  Basically, there is no way that you can screw this thing up and because it's all fruity you might even feel like it's not that bad for you... hell of a lot better than mini snickers bars (who eats mini's anyway!)

I thought that this looked a bit like Pacman

Apple Sauce Cake (scarfed from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen)
makes a 9 inch square cake

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp (dash really) ground cloves
1 stick  - 1/4 cup - 4 oz unsalted butter at room temp.
1 cup brown sugar (you can use light brown)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)


4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened but not melted
2 - 2 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour and 9 inch square baking tin.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves (Jeez, that was a mouthful) in a bowl together and set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and continue to beat until lighter and fluffier (!).  Add in the vanilla and the applesauce and mix well.  Add the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Add the toasted walnuts if you are adding.
Pour the batter (which is on the thick and goupy side - just so you know) into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35 - 40 min.  Until a tester comes out clean.  Cool for a bit in the pan and then transfer to a rack to cool.  Ice the cake once it's completely cooled.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until the mixture is creamy.  Add in the sifted icing sugar and combine until all is well blended.  Add in the cinnamon and mix until blended.

Cabbage Stew

Here is what I wore to bike to work today:
socks and understuff
close fitting biking pants
pants on top of the biking pants
turtle neck

Yup.  It was -2 degrees C when I left today.  Mmmmm cold.  So cold that when you're biking and the wind blows that your eyes tear up and the tears run down your face.   Emotional.  I'm determined to keep going though.  I'm not going to stop until there is snow and ice on the roads.  I'm not alone out there either which is heartening, especially in November at -2 degrees!
I always have to work to find things to keep me stoked about winter.  It's hard for me 'cause honestly... well, it's hard.  There are some things though, I'll think of them eventually.
I do like winter foods though.  And not just 'cause I like how they taste.  Truth be told, I don't like how they taste sometimes.  It's really about the challenge.  Knowing I need to find ways of preparing these veggies that will be interesting enough and palatable enough for the kids to eat.  All the while feeling good that I'm using local and seasonal produce as much as possible.  One of this weeks challenges:  Cabbage.

It gets a bad rap sometimes.  Kinda boring, kinda gas inducing, kinda squeaky... you know.  I can't just keep making cabbage rolls either, tasty though they may be.  So I got to thinking about this mock cabbage roll thing that my Mom used to make.  All the ingredients of cabbage rolls but just plunked into a pot and cooked together.  I'm not describing it very appetizingly but it was good.  That made me wonder if I could just come up with a really tasty cabbage stew.
So here's what I did:

1.  Slice 1/2 a large cabbage (about 4 - 5 cups) into 1 inch wide slices.   Slice 2 medium sized red or orange peppers.  Dice 2 medium sized carrots.  Slice 1 large onion.

2.  Heat a large pot and begin to saute the veggies in some oil or pork fat (sounds gross but just save anything that you might have from cooking bacon) over med/low heat.  Keep this going for about 10 min.  Stir when needed but turn the heat down if anything starts to stick.

3.  Take the wrappers off about 1 1/2 lbs of hot italian sausage and chop them into little meatball sizes.  Throw them into the pot and let them slowly heat through.  Add in a couple of diced garlic cloves.  Cook for another 10 minutes or so.

4.  Add in about 400 ml of diced tomato and about 2 - 3 tbsp of tomato paste.  If you have some bouillion hanging around then throw that in too.  Add a couple of tbsp of sugar or honey, dash of salt and maybe some basil as well.

5.  Check tastes and continue to simmer at low heat for another 30 - 40 minutes.  The longer you simmer, the softer and sweeter the veggies become.

6.  Serve with rice or all by it's little lonesome.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Ok.  So this recipe turned out nothing like I had originally envisioned it.  That's weird and kinda funny.  I thought about making a roasted veg thing with lots of eggplant and peppers.  Sounds good, right?  This kind of vaguely tomato sauce with mushy roasted veg and spices.  Still sounds good to me... I'll probably keep on trying.
Here's the problem though.  Something else occurred I have no idea how I got here...

Everything was going well.  I was dicing up the eggplant and getting the peppers ready.  I had these little sweet orange peppers  - they were orange and so cute.

But then I remember thinking that there probably weren't enough and maybe I should add some more veggies to round things out.  Then I was rummaging through the fridge and then... well... there were mushrooms and onions and zucchini and then I had some tomato to roast (the last of the stuff from the garden!)

... then this happened.

 Like I said, I don't really know for sure.  Sometimes I have these experiences.  You arrive somewhere and you're not sure quite how you got there - the details are a little foggy, ya know?

Don't worry I'm ok.  It turned out well as it goes.  It's just a strange thing to look at something that you just prepared and realize that you're not sure how it got there.  I still want to make another sauce with roasted eggplant and sundried tomato.

Roasted Veg Pasta Sauce
serves about 6

1 medium eggplant cut into 1 inch stripes (or cubes)
2 - 3 red or orange peppers cut into largish chunks
1 small zucchini, cut into strips
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
1 medium onion cut into large chunks
3 - 4 medium tomato, cut into quarters
olive oil to coat
1 bunch (about 4 cups) spinach, washed and cut into small pieces
300 gr. goat cheese, in large chunks
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 - 3 tbsp basil, parsley, oregano (more if using fresh)
2 tbsp sugar
dash of cream of milk as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat all the veggies (save the spinach - don't roast that) with olive oil.  Place the veggies (except the spinach) onto baking sheets making sure not to pile them, spread them out to they are one layer deep.  Sprinkle with salt and roast for about 35 min.  The veggies should be soft and a little browned.  Once the veggies have cooled enough to touch them, cut them up into smaller pieces.
In a large Dutch oven saute the veggies together with the spinach.  Let the spinach get wilted.  Add in the goat cheese and let it melt into the veggies.  Add in the herbs and sugar.  Add the parmesan and a little cream or milk to thin out the sauce as needed.  Check the tastes (add a little something peppery if you'd like ;-)
Mix with cooked pasta and serve with a little more parmesan on the side.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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